By Wallace Clark
Fifty years ago last week I photographed The Beatles at the Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach during rehearsals for the Ed Sullivan Show. I hustled my way in with a fake press pass and shot alongside some of the top newspaper and magazine photographers in the country.
I had been in the photo business since the age of 19 when I got a job as a delivery boy for a camera store/photo lab. My daily route took me to drugstores, hotels and other businesses in Homestead, Miami Beach, Hollywood Beach, North Miami, Hialeah, downtown Miami and everywhere in between.
I met a lot of interesting people, most notably groundbreaking comedian Lenny Bruce; a big believer in the First Amendment. He was later immortalized in the movie, Lenny which starred Dustin Hoffman. Bruce took a lot of amateur photos and would often wait for me to deliver his photos to a drugstore near his home on Miami Beach.
After a year on the road, I was promoted to manager of the business, supervising eight men older than me. Every workday I was immersed in all facets of photography and I couldn’t help but learn. On weekends I photographed weddings, bar mitzvahs and quinces.
In retrospect, I wasn’t a very good photographer back then but I never blanked out on a job. I satisfied my customers. From working in the camera store I got advice from many professional photographers and that helped me immensely.
I was already a fan of The Beatles when an Associated Press photographer friend called me from the Deauville and told me to get over there, shoot some pictures and make money. I borrowed a press card from a photographer friend and attached my photo over his and headed to the Beach.
Things were easier and more casual in those days and I had no problem getting into the ballroom. The Beatles were approachable and I did manage to have a brief chat with George Harrison.
The best part at the time was that I made enough money selling photos of The Beatles to afford a down payment on a new Ford Mustang convertible.
Photographing The Beatles was a very cool thing to do at the time and it seemed to grow cooler as years passed and The Beatles became music legends.