Dan Farrell, the Daily News photographer who snapped the iconic photo of 3-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket on Nov. 25, 1963, died Monday morning at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre.
Farrell, who was 84 and lived in Oceanside, L.I., suffered from scleroderma. He entered the hospital Friday after contracting pneumonia, said his daughter Lynn Farrell.
Farrell was hired by the Daily News in 1955 and retired more than 40 years later, after distinguishing himself in a golden, star-studded age of photo journalism in which there were few flacks and handlers to obstruct access to luminaries and politicians and little management of “optics.”
He snapped President Jimmy Carter hopping a fence at LaGuardia Airport; Bing Crosby taking the train out to Aqueduct Racetrack (Farrell loved the ponies); Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston in a brutal boxing bout; and the Beatles inspiring hysteria at Shea Stadium. He accompanied President Ronald Reagan on Air Force One and once crawled into a fireplace at the White House to “make the Oval Office look oval,” while shooting President George Bush Sr., recalled his son, Dan Farrell Jr. Farrell also accompanied Harry Belafonte and several of the Jackson Five to Africa, recalled his daughter..
Farrell’s chilling image of a tiny, stoic JFK Jr. jolted a grieving nation into recognition of its lost hopes and innocence and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Watching the little boy execute a goodbye salute to his father at his mother’s instruction after the funeral mass in Washington D.C. “was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” Farrell told reporters in 2013.
“He got extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances — Bing on the subway, JFK Jr. at a funeral — he was good at capturing how human they were,” said Larry Sutton, a former Daily News reporter.
Farrell was a photojournalist when the Daily News circulation was in the millions, and affiliation with the publication carried tremendous clout. “He got Bing Crosby by just calling him at his hotel and saying, ‘what are you doing today? Let’s go out to the track!” said Sutton.
Upbeat, curious and friendly, Farrell was beloved by colleagues, tremendously talented and “always thinking, ‘how can I make this better? How can I make it different?” Sutton recalled.
Farrell, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, grew up in the Marine Park area of Brooklyn before moving to Long Island in 1961. His wife, Mary, died in 2011. He is survived by five children, 18 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Anthony’s Parish, 11 Anchor Ave., in Oceanside. Viewing is Wednesday from 7-9 pm. And Thursday 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Christopher T. Jordan Funeral Home, 302 Long Beach Rd. in Island Park.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Scleroderma Research Foundation or to causes researching the prevention and treatment of macular degeneration.