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Subject: Ray Bellisario, UK photojournalist/paparazzo of royals/celebs

Dead at 82
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Date Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 11:37:08am


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Ray Bellisario obituary

Roy Greenslade
Twitter: @GreensladeR

Wed 6 Jun 2018 07.47 EDT

Ray Bellisario, a photographic journalist who stalked the royal family for the best part of 20 years, protested until his recent death about the way that I, and other journalists, wrote about him.

In an email to me six years ago he said: “I regard you as a friend but I am profoundly offended by being labelled ‘paparazzo’. I want to be recognised for my real work as a charitable, concerned journalist who covers stories such as the Bhopal gas disaster, Aberfan … and famine in Africa and India.”

However, Ray, who has died aged 82, could never escape the tag he so disliked, nor could he shake off the notoriety he gained as the first British “pap”, documenting the activities of the royals in a period when newspaper photographers were expected to show due deference.

Born the youngest of 13 children in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, to Italian immigrant parents, Giuseppe and Assunta, who sold ice cream from a handcart, he was 18, a fledging freelance photographer with the Fox Photos agency, when he happened to come across the Queen in 1955 sheltering under an umbrella on the rain-soaked streets of Truro in Cornwall.

Bellisario did not confine himself to images of the royal family. Among thousands of photographs in his archive, which was sold off to raise money for charity five years ago, were shots of Winston Churchill, the Kennedy family, Sophia Loren and a delightful set of portraits of Brigitte Bardot in a London pub in 1968.

After turning his back on the royals in 1975, he covered the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Western Sahara and the Nigerian civil war. He also made regular trips to Cuba to teach journalism at the University of Havana. His activities were severely restricted after 1990, when he used a wheelchair because of a spinal condition, and he then became a doughty fighter for disability rights.

He is survived by three children and eight grandchildren.

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PHOTO of Ray Bellisario in his heyday ...LinkWednesday, June 13, 01:13:03pm

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