Transcript:

Speaker The first time I met Robert Kapper was at his mother's apartment on the West Side in New York near Grant's Tomb. The apartment was very small and lots of people fitted into the place and became a very cozy atmosphere. Bob's mother was extremely unusual.

Speaker Her name was Julia. And I had my wife with me and she had a present for Julia. It was the first time that she had met Julia and that turned out to be a ironing, not a hot iron for clothing when you're traveling.

Speaker And when Julia opened the box to see the hot I and she she was absolutely furious. She said, you expect me to do ironing when I'm on a trip. She was very unusual. Anyhow, Bob turned up later because he was always gallivanting around town. You never knew what his schedule was needed, that he, Cornell Capa, his brother and I were very, very close and worked together in the photo lab for quite a while. And that was my first introduction to Bob just after the Spanish Civil War, which occurred in 1937. I guess by this time, Bob was a renowned war photographer because of the great coverage he made of the Spanish Civil War from the Republican side. All those pictures appeared in life. And probably the most famous of all was the image of soldier, a Republican soldier at the moment when he was hit by a fascist machine gun bullet. It shows the soldier in the air practically. And it was in those days considered very, very unusual event for even publishing a picture of that nature. So life was a pioneer in a lot of things. And Bob found an outlet in that area very rewarding. He arrived late in the evening and there were a group of us there. And of course, that was the first time I I met him. And it was immediately apparent that Bob had a great deal of charm and charisma, really. He specialized in inspiring young photographers and he gave us an opportunity to look at photojournalism in a different way. And the different way was to express ourselves in pictures and in what you might call an objective way without being necessarily sentimental about the war, which was nothing to be sentimental about. He spent some time at the apartment and Julia, his mother, who we called Mother Goose, was talking about the period in Europe when she took on the role of a salesman for Bob's images, and she succeeded in selling a few, but she didn't know how to charge for them. So she ended up charging the client by the weight of the pictures, by the pound. And of course, that brought everybody to their feet because we all know how lightweight picture images are charged by the.

Speaker And what did you charge by the kilo, I wonder?

Speaker I don't remember the amount, but in those days, peanuts was the rule.

Speaker Pictures were looked upon as necessary evils, you might say, and the price paid for them was extremely low. Remember, this was pre-war and photojournalism had been really originating in Europe among a small, tiny group of photographers from Germany and Hungary, such as Bob did. And most of them became refugees that came to America and imported the photojournalism style to our shores. And Life magazine became the beneficiary of all those pictures, which were so unusual. And you have to realize that in those days, most people got their news from Life magazine, not from the MacNeil Lehrer Report on Channel 13. So it was a very unusual period of time when images of dramatic impact were extremely welcomed by the American public. And Life magazine had the reputation of people, especially in small towns, waiting impatiently at the the.

Speaker The mail box for the delivery of their copy, it was quite an occasion and was.

Speaker At the forefront of this new kind of photojournalism is what did he bring to these images that we haven't seen before, images particularly of war?

Speaker Well, what he brought in particular was his own conception of how to cover a war.

Speaker You must remember that in those days, the introduction of the 35 millimeter camera made it possible to shoot pictures of action combat very easily because the camera was unobtrusive and small enough to capture images without endangering.

Speaker The photographer who were previous to that would have to use a big camera that became a target for the enemy. So, Bob, I had the advantage of using a 35 millimeter camera, which nobody had used before for that purpose, and therefore his images became much more intimate and dramatic than the usual kind of pictures you would expect to see. So that's some background on Bob, the fact that he was so enterprising to get close to the action. He was famous for that without the he was really quite courageous to expose yourself to enemy fire, and he accomplished that.

Speaker I also think that it's interesting and I don't know if it had been done before, that he turned the camera on civilians.

Speaker In war that he turned the cameras on civilians, yes, he was photographing the civilians as well as the battle.

Speaker Oh, yes, a little bit about that and what you meant to him, Bob didn't wasn't happy just to shoot combat photographs. He was more than anxious to show the effects of the war on the common people of Madrid, where he was shooting pictures of air raids by the Germans who were supporting the Franco forces. And the pictures he was able to shoot showed the population in a state of terror because this was the first time that a serious attempt was made to bombard by air a city and the inhabitants were absolutely in terror of what was going on. So the pictures Bob got of people running and looking up at the sky were quite memorable because of that.

Speaker Yeah, I mean, and it was that new for photographers to photograph not just the action of war, but the suffering of the people that we're we're not fighting.

Speaker Well, I think it was more Bob's character that that he felt he had to show not only pictures of soldiers in the front lines, but the effect of the war on the population and then the inhabitants. So he had a wide, widespread view of what was happening, and that was unusual.

Speaker And what do you think it was about Cappa, that people let him get so close, both in combat and civilian?

Speaker Well, I think one of the reasons was goes back to what I was saying before about the miniature camera. It was so new that people were unfamiliar with it and he was able to get close ups of people without them being inhibited. And the also his equipment, the camera and lens and I say ness, because it was a single lens that he shot with. He didn't bother with extra telephoto lenses and a shoulder bag loaded with equipment. Bob really reduced coverage to the lowest common denominator. And he was not a technician. He never felt that he could shoot things like still life. He was bored with that.

Speaker So basically, he brought this personality to this coverage and it was there something about him that made people trust him when he photographed them?

Speaker Well, Bob reduced the subjects to a state of of.

Speaker Feeling good about themselves. He was able to impart that quality and he. He whoever he shot became inspired by him because of his great deal of charm and the vigorous nature. So as far as that goes, I think the subject that interested him that he photographed eventually became friends of him, ABAB, and that that was an important element in his makeup.

Speaker And what do you think it was about him? I know you said charisma and charm, but was there something he did or a presence that he had that enabled people to feel comfortable and feel so quickly like friends?

Speaker Well, it's very hard to pinpoint these things because charisma can be exhibited in different ways by different people. And Bob's charisma was a kind of friendliness and down to earth kind of sense that attracted you to him. And he immediately made you feel fully at ease when you were talking to him. And furthermore, welcome to the young photographers like myself and Cornell. He was able to enunciate his feeling about young people starting in photography, and he wanted us to understand that we were not just photographers. We were also creative people whose work had an effect on the people of the world.

Speaker Great, and talk to me a little bit more about what he meant to you and other young photographers, generous, did sort of inspire you by example or by talking to you about those relationships like and who were some of those people?

Speaker Well, it really amounted to a variety of stimulation by Bob. You would never know what would happen next with him once he would be telling you to disregard the camera and just shoot instinctively. Another time he would talk about how important that was for the photographer, the creative person who made the image to own the image and the. Frequently, he would refuse assignments because he didn't feel that they fit his personality. So it was a spirit of independence that he managed to inspire young people with in photography and the birth canal. And I felt this very strongly and became. Freelance photographers, actually, we did stories together. And it was part of. Bob's inspiration that we got off our behinds and these things. So he contributed in every way to the photographers, including clothing, he loved beautiful clothes. It had to be custom made. And when I was in Paris in 1948, while he was working on his project to start Magnum, the photo agency I worked in. To the office time and life, which was at the Place de la Concorde, one of the most beautiful places to have an office imaginable. And Bob was there. He saw that I was wearing clothing that he felt. Could be more inspirational, and he suggested a tailor on the left bank to do custom clothing for me, which I succeeded in having done, and the most memorable thing about the suit that was made for me was what the French loved to call the Pottery Barn. That was the breast construction that was almost like cardboard on the suit. That was the popular thing for the day. And the finally after a while, it flattened out and I got rid of it. But he just loved clothing and he wore it in the very devil may care matter. For example, he never put his hands in the sleeve. The coat or jacket was always over his shoulders. He never had the patience, I guess, to to do otherwise. And he always had a cigarette dangling from his lips.

Speaker Tell us about the book, The Brain, The Famous Raincoat.

Speaker The famous white raincoat of the famous raincoat, in my judgment, was a Bayberry raincoat that he had bought in London in preparation for covering the opening of the second front in June and 1944.

Speaker He was waiting for it very impatiently. And because of the weather, he took along his favorite raincoat, but he never put it on. He carried it over his sleeve on his arm and took his pictures of the famous image that he was seeing of the soldier, the American soldier trying desperately to wade ashore at Omaha Beach. And of course, the sad thing, I don't know if you realize that, but his images were developed.

Speaker He had about six rolls of film and he brought it back to London, fortunately in time for Life magazine to publish them the following week. But unfortunately, the darkroom technician who was developing the film in the bathroom of a hotel room, he was a primitive setup that was in the tub. And he got so emotional about the pictures that he turned the thermostat on the electric heater. They used to drive the film. He turned it up too high. And the result was that in a few minutes, the emulsion of all these films just went down the drain, except for a few pictures. And the few were the critical images that you've seen, especially that the famous one of the soldier waiting to shore.

Speaker And what was he doing with his raincoat while this was all going on over arm?

Speaker He never put it out.

Speaker And was this a particularly fancy raincoat or not?

Speaker It was a bayberry. Anything that laid his hands on in the line of clothing was fancy. And this was a good looking raincoat, which I never saw, where it was always over his shoulders or arm.

Speaker And did it survive the day?

Speaker I don't know about that Bob's clothing habits were a mystery to me. He would always appear in something new, so he may have given it away to some needy young photojournalists.

Speaker But I never receive when you see where they colorful his clothes or how would you characterize this?

Speaker Very informal, extremely informal, but elegant. And he had this manner about him that the. Made people look at him more than once, particularly women. So he. He was really an unusual guy, there's no question about it.

Speaker I wanted to ask you, it sounds like you met Kapper right after the Spanish Civil War in New York. It would have been. What year would that have been?

Speaker I guess it must have been about the end of 37. Nineteen thirty seven.

Speaker So it really is love. Gerda had just died then in the Spanish.

Speaker Well, that was the tragedy. Of course, she was his companion in the coverage of the war. And while he was in Paris, she stayed on and she died in a tragic manner by a collision with a tank who was passing by her car. So he was very, very broken up about that, of course.

Speaker Did he ever talk to you about that or about.

Speaker No, he never brought up the subject and nobody wanted to query him about it, including myself. It was history and he had to work his way through it.

Speaker Had he already been to China when you met him? Had he already walked into China, he went to China right after the Civil War?

Speaker Yeah, I, I met him after China when he came back to New York and delivered his pictures to Life magazine. But that was a very quick trip. He returned to Europe. He always preferred Europe to America. And I don't blame him. It was a nice a better atmosphere for an eccentric, individualistic guy like.

Speaker You in your interview with Richard, and you mentioned that happened in Vietnam, fighting back in his home, setting in his apartment with his mother's apartment in New York, and he was sort of breezy and maybe you could just describe and then you would think of something and breathe out and you could just kind of describe what it was like when he arrived and suddenly realized he had to leave and then took off.

Speaker Well, the minute he entered the apartment, there was a sense of electricity in the air. Everyone had been looking forward to seeing him, of course. And immediately he made himself at home and participated in the discussions about photography and explaining how important it is for young photographers to learn your trade and be independent about accepting assignments and shooting pictures that you desired and that you were interested in. So that was a major part of his contribution. And then out of nowhere, suddenly he would say, oh, I have to meet somebody and he'd leave. So it was a very kind of hit and miss proposition with him. In Paris, when I was there in 1948 and he was living at the Lancaster Hotel, I would come to visit him in the mornings and you couldn't miss his room because as you exited from the elevator and looked down the hallway, there was a door open. And in the background was the bathroom. And there was kapper sitting in the not on the toilet, sitting in the relaxed in the bathtub, reading a newspaper and smoking a cigarette. And you would come in and greet him. And if you asked him, should I close the door? And he'd say, no, leave it open. He was always open to visitors. So he had a remarkable strain about him.

Speaker So you would just come into the bathroom with a lot of people, show up and hang out in the bathroom.

Speaker There wasn't much room in the bathroom. I would be there, the early bird. And then after leaving, he probably had a few more visitors. But the Lancaster Hotel. Tied in with the fact that Bob Cappa was responsible for naming a dog that I had just brought back from Berlin, where I paid a woman a carton of Chesterfields for the dog in those days, this was during the 1948 Berlin airlift. And people were literally starving in those days and they sell anything they had. And this beautiful derksen appeared out of nowhere. And I decided it would be a great gift for one of the women reporters in Paris. And sure enough, when I got the dog back to Paris, I. I presented her to the reporter who was very appreciative. Love dogs and. From the moment I gave her the dog, we all left for lunch nearby, close to the room, Madeleine. And about 20, 30 minutes into the lunch, suddenly this dog appeared at my feet. She had left the woman reporter walked down four flights of steps and somehow by instinct or scent, she found me at this restaurant and started to claw at my legs. Well, I realized at that point that the dog was not for the woman reporter, but for me. So I kept her and. And the only thing that was lacking was a name. Well, it just so happened a day or so later at dinner in a French left bank restaurant, Bob announced that he would like to borrow my car, which is a personal car that was sent over by life at their expense. And of course, I said you can certainly have and gave him the key and people were appalled at dinner because they all knew that Bob was a terrible driver, including myself.

Speaker And we all try to indoctrinate him with the rules of the traffic rules in Paris. And that was namely that the car on the right had the right of way. So apparently when he took the car, he drove back to the hotel Lancaster on the sunset safely, say, looking to his right, only just to be sure that he was within the law. What happened was that there was a fender bender with another car because of that who came in on his left and the two guys in the car opened the door and a dog jumped out and disappeared on the sunset. And they say and they were more interested in getting their dog back than they were in the damage to their car. So at that moment, a reporter for a French newspaper was nearby and was amused by the big event and wrote a story that appeared in the following morning in the French newspaper on the page one story under the title of a poofy. It turned out that the dog that was lost was named Puffy and they were yelling poofy all up and down the avenue. So naturally Poofy became the name of the dog, all because of Bob Kappa's charisma.

Speaker The great story, the great doing on.

Speaker Our team. OK, so we're fine, how are you doing? You are are you doing fine?

Speaker Yeah, I'm holding up OK. Let's continue.

Speaker You're doing great and the stories are fabulous. Well, let's start out.

Speaker You don't need to sit there. Thank you. You're hearing me OK? Yeah, you're doing very well. OK, good. So are you. Thank you. So.

Speaker I'd love to have you tell the story about. I guess you already knew Bob from New York when you saw him again in Italy. Is that right? You saw him again when you saw him in the hospital?

Speaker Oh, and at banally and literally the first thing was it was first there, right, that you saw him in the hospital and then later was Enzio?

Speaker Yeah. Later on in January, 44 of the 5th Army decided on an end run around the Italian front of casino where a war of attrition was taking place. And the only way they can figure out to break it was to do this and run by way of Anzio, which was very close to Rome and north of Casino. And the whole idea was to land there and sever the supply lines for the German army that was in casino and that would settle their hash. That was a great idea, but it didn't work.

Speaker Unfortunately, the concept.

Speaker Was good, but the execution was now any time there was an invasion. It wasn't a real one unless Bob was there and he turned up for D-Day at the Anzio beachhead and without me understanding that he was involved. I was covering as a combat photographer the same event going in with the 4th Division. He went in with the Rangers. I think he didn't have his raincoat, that it was a very calm and beautiful day. The Germans had retreated. The few that were left there were anxious to become prisoners. So it was a real cakewalk. However, nobody knew what the immediate future would bring. And the result is that in the confusion of war, there's a lot of tenseness. And I took some pictures of the beach, which was chaotic condition, because the guys just covered it like an anthill, unloading ammunition and supplies from ships that were delivering the necessities. And I walked along the beach feeling my way through this crowd of guys with my camera in my hand. And there was Kappus sitting on top of a jeep, smoking a cigarette, nonchalantly surveying the scene, and had a broad expression on his face. And naturally, we said hello and we exchanged greetings. And I sat down with him on the hood of the Jeep. And just as we started talking, a lone Luftwaffe combat plan came over the beach parallel to the water and started to strength the entire beach. And its targets were so obvious he couldn't miss anybody. The moment that the machine guns started, every guy on the entire beach and the anthill dropped everything and dug themselves into the sand, including myself, and as I was listening to the plane disappear, I looked up and there was Bob still sitting on the jeep, smoking a cigarette, surveying the scene. Either he was crazy or else he knew what was happening. I chose to believe that he knew what was happening because he realized that the plane wasn't aiming at him. But that's the kind of guy he was. And we've been able to track the route of the plane that closely to know whether it would miss him or, oh, it was very low when you get a long plane strafing the beachhead there, maybe 500 feet above the ground. But it was the only plane that the Luftwaffe had apparently to devote to resisting the invasion. So by that time, you can see that the the Germans were in retreat and most of the Italian area. A few days later, I ran into Bob at 6th Corps headquarters, which was in a stone villa. At the beachhead and he was looking at the map of the Anzio beachhead very carefully because it had colored pins identifying the order of battle, which means that you can see where the Germans were and where the Americans were. And he looked at it seriously for a few minutes and we said hello. And then he said. This ain't going to work, I'm going back to London to wait for the second front. He was really quite knowledgeable about military things, you'd look at this map, and unless you are trying to understand what was going on, it was really a totally incomprehensible well, needless to say, I stayed at the Anzio beachhead because I was a Signal Corps combat photographer. And Bob, being a civilian, was perfectly eligible to go where he wanted to. So I stayed at the beachhead throughout that its entire period, which was extremely tense and. Terribly dangerous, because wherever you went, you were with an artillery range of the Germans and we lived in a cave just like bin Laden and. Would come out during the day to go to the front lines to shoot pictures. And one day while we were in the cave, there was a black battalion of soldiers who occupied this is a big cave. We were all playing cards to while away the time, waiting for lunch and just about in the middle of a card game, huge artillery shell screeched overhead and landed in front of the mouth of the cave. But it didn't explode. It was a dud. And everybody realized that and just kept playing and walking outside to see if there was any damage.

Speaker I would love to have you talk about Tampa as a gambler. I mean, not just as a literal poker playing gambler, but as the guy who sat on the cheap when the plane was going gambling his life.

Speaker Well, it was partially gambling his life and possibly his realistic understanding of what was going on. He was calculated things very carefully, and he knew that the plane wasn't aiming at him. So he just sat there. The other people were not as experienced, the soldiers were completely unknowing of what was going on, they just hit the dirt like they were trained to do. But Bob had a more comprehensive view of war.

Speaker He mentions in his book, Slightly Out of Focus, that every day the photojournalist gambles his life, that his life is at stake and every day he puts it up.

Speaker Well, that's true. I mean, you were in danger of being shot up anywhere. You were, for example, the headquarters for the photographers and the. Press in general was at the beach itself in a villa called the Villa Virtu. And Bob stayed there as well as the group. It was quite a curious bunch. The combat photographers that I represented, the U.S. Signal Corps, had a very small organization of just two people, two photographers and a Jeep driver and our own private jet. And the we lived in a cave near by an artillery anti-aircraft emplacement which was dug into the ground with sandbags surrounding it and the barrel of the gun pointing to the sky. And one morning when we went out, we found that the sandbags around the emplacement had disappeared. And instead of the anti-aircraft pointed to the sky, it was pointed parallel to the ground. And we knew immediately that we were in trouble because this was the last stop before being pushed by the Germans into the Mediterranean. And for a couple of days, it was touch and go. That was a bad. So basically, you were always living on borrowed time and even with the greatest experience, the things happened beyond your control. So it was really an unusual. Kind of thing for. I guess basically the young soldiers who are inexperienced were the ones who felt strongly that they were in invulnerable. It was only after you had experience in combat for a while that you began to be more realistic and took less risks. But that was mainly among the soldiers. Bob was courageous and he'd do anything to get a picture.

Speaker What do you think was different about Vietnam? I mean, he seems to have had in front of you the incredible luck or incredible perspicacity and in all the other wars.

Speaker In Vietnam, was it because of the different kind of war that, well, he was this was before Vietnam became an American affair. He was covering the French fight with the Vietcong during that period for Life magazine. And that war was quite vicious in many respects. It has a similarity to Afghanistan because you never knew who the enemy was. And the result was that the combat activity was somewhat different. It was very fluid. And Bob was with the French battalion who were on their way to the Viet Cong stronghold, and he got bored walking with them and walked around unknowingly in a minefield. And that's how he met his death.

Speaker But do you think he was less knowledgeable about the way that the Viet Cong were fighting and that's why he I mean, no, I think he was thoroughly knowledgeable.

Speaker I guess what happened was that after a while, you become less tuned in, especially to mine fields. Who knows where where are you going to be blown up?

Speaker That kind of added to.

Speaker Could happen any time, though. And do you remember where you were when you heard about his death?

Speaker Yeah, I was on assignment in the Middle West for Life magazine on a story picture story. And I heard about it because I called the office periodically and they told me about it and I immediately went back to New York. But I got there too late for the funeral, unfortunately, so that I regret I always regretted that I had missed that time.

Speaker You saw Cornell and Julia, though.

Speaker Oh, yeah. Yeah. Shortly after.

Speaker What how was that? I mean, obviously, they were devastated, but I remember well, it was devastating.

Speaker Bob had this charisma which led many people to believe he led a charmed life, no one expected Bob to be a victim of warfare. And it was very, very difficult. We were all very heavily missed them and interestingly, Colonel Cappa his brother. Became the curator for Bob's Pictures and.

Speaker Originated the.

Speaker ICP, the International Center of Photography, which became an archive for Bob's work, and Cornell was responsible for keeping his name alive, and that was quite a remarkable achievement on his part. So that was the culmination of the legacy that Bob left behind and.

Speaker I'd love to hear more about the relationship between Bob and Cornell, you know, when they're younger and younger days and how involved they were at all competitive or whatever, whatever it was that you saw between them?

Speaker Well, I saw between Cornell and his brother Bob, a relationship that had many of the elements that I experienced, the inspirational quality that Bob imparted and the charm that he exhibited and the tolerance for his activities because they were always so unusual.

Speaker And Cornell, the very has always had a very sensitive feel for people also in a different way. He was not as flamboyant as Bob, but his ideas and execution were in many ways a continuation of Bob's life. Because Bob had started the photo agency, he called Magnum a very apt name for an agency. And it was a cooperative of photojournalists who own the whole kit and caboodle, and they were always fighting with each other. It was not an easy relationship.

Speaker When you collected numerous megalomaniacs together, it's bound to be a tense time and. It was earth shaking among photojournalism because nobody it's still the only agency that has that attraction for young photojournalists, and out of that, of course, Bob Bob's work was continued by Cornell at the ICP. So. That's the background with Bob and.

Speaker Cornell, do you know about their earlier times, was the teacher to. That was Robert Kaplan, the teacher to Cornell in terms of jump starting Cornell's photographic career?

Speaker Well, I think it all started in Europe, actually, when Cornell went to Paris to join Bob for a while after the Spanish Civil War. And during that period, Cornell learned the techniques of darkroom work, did a lot of developing printing with Bob's work, and received his first taste of photojournalism so that when he got to New York, he migrated into that field directly. And it was my good fortune to have shared his experience in photojournalism at the very beginning. So we became very fast friends.

Speaker It seems that Cornell must have adored.

Speaker Oh, there's no question about it. He not only adored him, but with that great, tremendous respect for his talents and you see it in all the works that Cornell has produced for Bob as his legacy.

Speaker You know, and I want him to go back to Italy, to this scene where you found Bob in the hospital.

Speaker And Bagnolet, yeah, well, I as I mentioned, I, I had a short leave of absence from the casino front in Italy and I knew that Bob was hanging out at the 5th Army headquarters, which was in Bagnoli. So I wandered down there. It was not very far, about 25 miles. And I inquired about him and they told me he's in Ward 10 or something or other in the hospital and outdoor hospital they had there. The weather was superb. And sure enough, I found him, nobody was with him. He was sitting in bed lying down somewhat, and he had his arm in a sling and I asked him what happened. And he was very noncommittal about that. And in fact, he made the light of it by saying he was there because of a hangover. So that was typical, Bob. And it became apparent that he was not seriously hurt. So he recovered quickly enough to participate in the invasion of Anzio on that.

Speaker On occasion, when we talked about meeting on the beach and there's some story that he said that he heard himself arm wrestling with that story when he went and that he said that the reason his arm was hurt was that he had heard it when he was drinking an arm wrestling the night before.

Speaker Well, he never fully explained that to me. He called it a hangover. So he left it up to your imagination. But you became used to Bob language because there were so many unusual things that he went through, that another one was normal for him.

Speaker And so tappa and women.

Speaker What why did they love him so much, cappa was irresistible, especially to women. And he always had a woman hanging out close to him. And among his friends were movie stars, and I never sang with the real French woman, actually, but he cultivated these people and they reciprocated. So he became an object of desire and every woman that ran into him.

Speaker What's the what was it about him that. Mainly women.

Speaker Well, I wish I knew, because if I did know, I duplicate what he was doing, it was a mysterious syndrome and just like an electric light going on and off, the the bees were attracted to him.

Speaker And that was his great gift.

Speaker And OK, let's talk about one of his girlfriend stories down. Tell me what what was she like? What do you remember about her?

Speaker Well, my recollection is that she was sorry about yelled.

Speaker This can interrupt if you can repeat her name. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker Tarus dialing in my recollection was a very bright girl woman in those days we call them girls, but she had a nervous energy about her, which once led me to ask Bob what he saw on her. And his answer was some men like to ride wild horses.

Speaker That explains everything about Doris and what was wild about her. What was she? You know, if you spent time with her, what would she be doing?

Speaker Well, I. I don't think she was really wild. As I said before, she was more sprightly than wild. It was the chemistry between Bob and her that that probably evolved into kind of exciting the.

Speaker Who was she, what was she like, what was she doing in Paris?

Speaker Well, she was an actress and my recollection was that she did a lot of traveling and Bob was in Paris. So the magnetic field took over and she ended up visiting him in Paris. So it was never for a long period of time that he had one woman. It was always a revolving door kind of activity for him, but he made numerous friends with them and they always felt very close to him.

Speaker It was not like a quick association.

Speaker Yes, that reminds me that it seems that all of his girlfriends remained friends with him after it was over.

Speaker Exactly as I said before, he was irresistible in one form or another. And no matter what, they always returned to him to adore him.

Speaker And why were they not, you know, after he left them or it ended or whatever? Why would they not be angry at him?

Speaker What was it that made their friendship be able to continue?

Speaker I think the maturity of the women that he cultivated had a lot to do with it. They were not just ordinary types. They always had some either a professional interest in their work. They were not dependent upon men to a great extent. And for them it was an opportunity to cultivate a guy who they had never met before.

Speaker You think his Hungarian was appealing to women particularly?

Speaker Well, there's no question that being a Hungarian lent a certain cachet to his personality in the first place. His accent was Hungarian and his English, although very clear, had a very definite European accent. And it was a natural thing for him. It was not overly done. It was very subtle. But nevertheless, to any woman who hadn't heard that kind of response, that kind of verbal response from anybody, it was an immediate attraction.

Speaker Was he very physically affectionate with that part of his charm?

Speaker Oh, yeah. There's no question that his physical attractiveness was contributing to the overall picture of his charisma.

Speaker But is but was he physically affectionate?

Speaker Was he very affectionate? Yeah. Yeah, I'd say yes. Just like he was so affectionate in his inspiring young photojournalist's, he lavished the kind of affection upon his girlfriends.

Speaker That's nice. And what about Ingrid Bergman? Did you were you around him when he was having his?

Speaker Not all that much. She kept it kind of like most of his relationships with women. He didn't impart any further information. But I do remember once they were dining together in a French restaurant where I came to join them and I had my dog Pussy with me. French restaurants, as you probably know, except dogs very willingly. And in fact, they show you a menu. So the dog is well and her favorite dish was kidney. Anyhow, Ingrid Salan, lovely to see, and cradled her in her arms for quite a while until Bob said Let's eat. And that was the end of Truthy.

Speaker So you actually spent some time with both of them together?

Speaker Not all that much. Just periodically I'd see them. So I wasn't aware at that time of the depth of their relationship.

Speaker How were they together? Were they very affectionate, were they? Did they seem to have something, a real bond?

Speaker Did they seem to have one real bond between them, connection to to him?

Speaker Yeah. Oh, yeah. That was part of the whole picture without the bond would be nothing.

Speaker Right. OK, and I do need you to say her name, so maybe you could just say one sentence about her. Ingrid Bergman and Catha.

Speaker Oh, well, Ingrid Bergman and Tappa were obviously a love fest. And at that time Ingrid was in her prime and Bob was attracted to her as much as she was attracted to him. So it was a mutual pact between them. And it was pretty obvious that they made a very good pair. But eventually, of course, it didn't quite work out that way. So that was the end of that.

Speaker My understanding is that that she wanted to marry him. She would have left her husband to marry him, and he declined. So maybe you could talk about that a little bit if you have any ideas about why?

Speaker Well, my impression about Bob not wishing to get hitched with Ingrid was the fact that it meant living in her chateau in Hollywood, of all places, which she detested. So all in all, although he visited her there after the war for a period of time, I think this most likely solidified his opinion and that was the end of the affair.

Speaker That's my my feeling, too. And then, Jimmy, you mentioned you knew Jimmy, maybe you could talk a little bit about her and whatever you know about their relationship.

Speaker I don't know much about Jamie's relationship with them. She was a very quiet woman, extremely private. And I like to relax. She was very handsome, but I never did get to know her well, because I think mainly they knew each other in London. And I was not in London at that time, at that period. So I didn't have a chance to observe the relationship.

Speaker Some people have thought that Cappa might have been getting ready to settle down and possibly marry Jimmy in the 50s.

Speaker And then at around the time that he died, do you think that he was changing in any way that he was possibly going to settle down?

Speaker And it's I don't know specifically what kind of changes took place and Capa's personality during that period after the war in relation to women, particularly Jamie. But it seems likely that the Bob never stood still. So his personality also was subject to movement. And it's entirely possible that he may have considered settling down.

Speaker But I, for one, would feel that. Bob, settling down would would slow his. Is charisma to some extent, because he was so used to moving around.

Speaker It's interesting to me that the only woman he actually proposed to was Gerta and that and that even though they actually didn't get married, he referred to as his wife.

Speaker And I wonder if this is completely hypothetical, of course. But if you have any that maybe be after that, there was no one else, really that could fill that place.

Speaker Well, that's his relationship with Gerta during the Spanish Civil War period. I was not aware of that because I was in New York and on a visit to New York when I would see him with Cornell. He was very reluctant to bring up the subject of Gerta, but it was pretty obvious it was a smashing blow to him because after all, this was more like most likely his first love and they were so compatible. She was a photographer as well as Bob and worked in photojournalism photographing the Spanish War in collaboration with Bob.

Speaker So that's about all I can think of as far as Gertrudis, I guess what I'm getting at is whether that early loss might have affected his reluctance to really commit to anyone.

Speaker It's anybody's guess who can tell what went on in the mind of Bob Kappel, which was so versatile. So it's hard to tell. Sure. He was very private in that sense.

Speaker That's good one thing.

Speaker OK, I'll let you off the hook with women now. One thing I forgot to ask you about was the Picasso episode, how happy I was able to get access to Picasso and what that relationship was like.

Speaker Oh, the Picasso connection with Cappa is really quite interesting because you have to keep in mind that Bob was shooting many of his photographs as a freelancer during the postwar period for Life magazine. And he was very fortunate because he was a freelancer and Picasso had been attacked by Life magazine as being a communist during the war. And the Picasso never forgave Life magazine for that kind of situation.

Speaker So certainly after the war, Picasso changed course in his art. He became a ceramic artist. And this was a big deal with Picasso because he was so popular throughout the world. And both Looked magazine and Life magazine decided to do a picture story on Picasso and his ceramics in the Cote d'Azur where he worked on it. So I was assigned for the life story, of course, and Bob did it for Look magazine.

Speaker And we both rendezvous together on the Cote d'Azur to photograph Picasso. Capa was quite aware of Picasso's hatred for life, and I was knowledgeable about it as well.

Speaker So he dreamed up a trade off, which I agreed to.

Speaker And the trade off was that since his technique was bordering it, since he was bored with technique of photography, he found himself unwilling and unable to shoot the actual ceramic pieces that Picasso made that were rather small, you know, and required a certain lighting and technique which Bob was disinterested. And so. The fact that he was close to Picasso and a freelancer doing it Look magazine meant that he had access to Picasso, which I didn't have. I tried everything, including my dog proof, which I had brought her down to the Kartheiser. You know, in those days, it was a pleasure to work with the dog. And the reason I brought Lucy luggage, because I heard that Picasso love dogs and I thought perhaps if I could arrange a meeting between them, it would break the ice. Well, I arrived at a coffee shop or whatever, a cafe near where Picasso hung out on the sands of Gulf Suon. And sure enough, his first look at Puffy made a big hit and he lifted her up and cuddled her. And I took a picture of that. Unfortunately, I don't have it to sell to you because I can't find the darn thing. Someday it'll turn up. But I took some other pictures of him, which you may see on the screen. And Bob and I traded the he gave me some of his pictures of Picasso and I gave him a few pictures of the ceramics. And that was a collaboration during this period.

Speaker That's great. And how did Cabot get access to Picasso in the first place through his life?

Speaker Well, he had photographed Picasso before in Paris during the liberation. I think one of the first places that Bob visited was Picasso in his apartment on the left bank. And they hit it off very well together, of course. And and that was the original connection and of course, their mutual interest in Spain and having that kind of relationship added to the the friendliness. So Picasso had no trouble getting close to Picasso Diamond Golf. Schwann and I had a lot of trouble on that assignment, shooting the ceramics because I couldn't get Picasso's direct OK to shoot them. It had to be done through the curator of the collection in a small village called Vallauris near the Mediterranean. And it took a little maneuvering, including bribery, to accomplish that. But but it worked out great.

Speaker OK, I'm going to ask you one last question, and that's still in.

Speaker You know this.

Speaker And this question is probably going to be kind of a hard question, but there are a number of people I don't think it was your interview, but other people have said that Capone was not someone who could have grown old, but he was such a young spirit and couldn't imagine him growing old.

Speaker Maybe you could speak to that.

Speaker Well, being years younger than him, the thought of him growing old never occurred to anyone that I know of. I think that.

Speaker In retrospect. I don't agree with that.

Speaker I think that growing old for him may have changed his character for the better, actually, because the accumulation of the fantastic experiences that he had with people rubbing off the best of most of them, that he would have been fascinating is an old man.

Speaker In fact, I think. It would have been off to the best if he had lived longer. That's my opinion.

Yale Joel
Interview Date:
2001-12-14
Runtime:
1:10:33
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-707wm1479j, cpb-aacip-504-901zc7s97t
MLA CITATIONS:
"Yale Joel, Robert Capa: In Love and War." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 14 Dec. 2001, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1131
APA CITATIONS:
(2001, December 14). Yale Joel, Robert Capa: In Love and War. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1131
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Yale Joel, Robert Capa: In Love and War." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). December 14, 2001. Accessed August 08, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1131

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