Issue #152  11/10/2008
White House Photographer Stoughton, Who Took Famed Photo of Swearing in of L.B.J. With Jackie Kennedy, Passes Away

Cecil Stoughton, a White House photographer who shot the iconic image of Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, passed away on November 3rd. Oddly enough, I had viewed the rebroadcast of his Antiques Road Show television appearance with photo expert Wes Cowan just about an hour after he had died.

Stoughton died at his home on Merritt Island, FL. He was 88.

The photo he took of the swearing-in ceremony aboard Air Force One, Johnson with his hand raised and a strickened Jacqueline Kennedy looking on, became the most famous in his five years, 1961-65, as White House photographer.

Accompanying Kennedy to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Stoughton was in the fifth car in the motorcade and heard the shots that fatally wounded the president. He was at Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy died, when he learned he had to go photograph the swearing-in before Air Force One left for Washington D.C.

''He took about 20 pictures but the first one almost didn't happen because his Hasselblad -- the Rolls-Royce of cameras -- malfunctioned,'' his son said.

''He was under tremendous pressure. If his camera had failed, who knows what would have happened? It was the only proof that Johnson had been sworn in.''

Stoughton shot about 12,000 negatives during the Kennedy years, which are now archived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Cecil Stoughton later worked as a National Park Service photographer. In 1973 he published a book, ''The Memories -- JFK, 1961-1963."