exhibition
Weegee, Henry Geller, Landlord at 312 E. Houston St., Wept Over the Loss of his Tobacco Shop on the First Floor, 28 July 1941. NGC Collection. Purchased from the Phyllis Lambert Fund, 1981. © ICP c/o Getty Images
Weegee, Henry Geller, Landlord at 312 E. Houston St., Wept Over the Loss of his Tobacco Shop on the First Floor, 28 July 1941. NGC Collection. Purchased from the Phyllis Lambert Fund, 1981. © ICP c/o Getty Images
Weegee, Mrs. Henrietta Torres and her Daughter Alda Watch as Another Daughter and her Son Die in Fire, 15 December 1939. NGC Collection. Purchased from the Phyllis Lambert Fund, 1981. © ICP c/o Getty Images
Weegee, Mrs. Henrietta Torres and her Daughter Alda Watch as Another Daughter and her Son Die in Fire, 15 December 1939. NGC Collection. Purchased from the Phyllis Lambert Fund, 1981. © ICP c/o Getty Images

Born in 1899 in Zloczew, Austria-Hungary, as legend tells it, Arthur Fellig earned the nickname “Weegee” during his early career as a freelance press photographer in New York City. His apparent sixth sense for crime often led him to a scene well ahead of the police. Observers likened this sense, actually derived from tuning his radio to the police frequency, to the Ouija board, the popular fortune-telling game. Spelling it phonetically, Fellig took  Weegee  as his professional name.

With his subjects ranging from wild-eyed adolescent onlookers at a late night gangland slaying to glassy-eyed starlets at Hollywood movie premieres, Weegee could be considered one of the first ambulance chasers. He was as flamboyant as some of his subjects, creating his own mythology, reveling in his own notoriety as well as that of his subjects, and even stamping the backs of his pictures with “Credit Photo by Weegee the Famous”.

Weegee also worked in Hollywood as a filmmaker, performer, and technical consultant. His 1945 book  Naked City  was the inspiration for the 1947 film  The Naked City.   The Public Eye  (1992), starring Joe Pesci, was based on the man himself.

via J. Paul Getty Museum