Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





MORNINGS WITH PAULA ZAHN

Kennedy's Personal Photographer's Archives Destroyed in World Trade Center Collapse

Aired December 7, 2001 - 09:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. Lost in the rubble of the World Trade Center is the legacy of an American legend. The late Jacques Lowe was President John Kennedy's personal photographer. On September 11th, his photo archives were destroyed when the World Trade Center collapsed on a safe deposit vault where they were stored. The collection contained some 40,000 negatives, precious memories for the Kennedy family and for the nation.

Jacques Lowe died of cancer earlier this year. Now, his daughters are trying to reconstruct his library from the prints, which, in fact, do survive. For them, it's a labor of love.

And Thomasina Lowe and Victoria Allan join me now. Thank you for joining us this morning. So, Thomasina, help us -- help us understand, exactly, what you lost. Of the 40,000 negatives that some investigators believe to be missing, how many prints match up with those?

THOMASINA LOWE, DAUGHTER OF KENNEDY PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, unfortunately, only -- only approximately 300-400 prints were actually ever seen. My father had a collection of over 40,000 negatives, but very few of those were actually printed and used in exhibits. It was absolutely huge.

ZAHN: Yeah, Victoria, why don't you tell us a little bit about what you think you cannot recover at this point.

VICTORIA ALLAN, DAUGHTER OF KENNEDY PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, I guess what takes me back a little, is the fact that the negative are, in fact, destroyed because it's kind of like seeing the body. Until we know for sure that the negatives have been destroyed, and someone has, in fact, seen the vault, and the contents are no longer there, you know, I want to make sure that that, in fact, is the case.

ZAHN: And Thomasina, as we talk here today, we're going to continue to share with our audience some of the prints that you do have access to, to understand what your father did during the course of the Kennedy administration. What did you father tell you about working for the president and the first lady?

LOWE: Well, I think my father -- on a professional level, was very committed to the work that he was doing. It was a very challenging task for him. It was a very exciting time for him. He was -- he was given free range to take all the photographs that he wanted. So, as a photographer, I think, it was an amazing experience. But on a very personal level, I think, he become very close to the Kennedy family. He was very close to Bobby Kennedy and his family, and then met the president and Jackie, and for him it was -- they were friends, they were part of his family, he was part of their family, and it was a very personal experience, so to lose these negatives at this point -- not just for Jacques, my father, but for our family is real tragedy, and for the world -- it's history.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Thomasina, as I understand, your family had no insurance on these negatives.

LOWE: That's right.

ZAHN: Have you been able to estimate what the financial value is --

LOWE: That's right.

ZAHN: -- of these negatives lost?

LOWE: Well, ask any photographer. It's very difficult to put a price on a negative, and in this particular case, I think, because of the value of the negatives in terms of the subject matter and the impact that it has historically, my father and I used to have many discussions about, you know, how am I going to put a praise on these. So, in the end, he didn't. But I think he also thought they were safe. He had them in a safe at Chase-Manhattan, and I think he thought they were safe as they could ever be. No one could ever had imagined or predicted what happened on September the 11th.

ZAHN: Victoria, I know you think the negatives are gone at this point, but you plan to try to preserve some of the history your father witnessed when he was photographing John F. Kennedy's administration. How do you plan to do that?

ALLAN: Right. Well, I don't know, Thomasina, what do we have -- a plan about that?

LOWE: Absolutely. Yes. We're planning to have retrospectives of my father's work. Not just his Kennedy work, but also his early work and his jazz work. Quite possible we'll be publishing some books, and also looking into the possibility of doing a book on the life of my father, because he was someone who survived Germany as a Jew, and came over to America and then made America his home. So, we're going to be doing quite a lot. I think especially in light of what has happened with the negatives. I feel that the legacy needs to be pursued even more. Not just for us as a family, but for America, I think, in light of what's been going on in the world, I think it's very important.

ZAHN: What is so extraordinary, and we'll put a couple more images about what we've seen here today, is not only the access your father had to pivotal moments in the Kennedy administration, but also, it appears to me, the -- how relaxed the Kennedys appeared to be in the presence of his camera.

LOWE: Yeah. That's right. I think my father was amazed at how free he was to be around them when he was invited to be the personal photographer -- first, the campaign photographer. They told him, you know, Jacques, we want you to take some pictures and my father always used to say, well, that's fine, but what do you mean? I need more information. And they really didn't have any more information. They wanted him just to be there to take photographs and record, you know, what was happening. So he took some very personal, intimate photographs of the president and his family, and Bobby Kennedy and his family.

ZAHN: Well, we hear lots of phones ringing in the background. We'll let you answer some of those right now. Thank you for sharing your story with us this morning. Take care, both of you. Appreciate your time.

LOWE: Thank you.

ALLAN: Thank you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top