Legendary Vietnam War counterculture photographer, writer and documentarian Tim Page — who inspired the mad photojournalist played by Dennis Hopper in “Apocalypse Now” — has died at his home in Australia.
The self-taught British-born photographer died of liver cancer with friends by his bedside at his rural home in Fernmount, New South Wales, friends have announced on social media. He was 78 years old.
Ben Bohane, an Australian friend and fellow photojournalist, described Page as one of the world’s greatest war photographers as well as a “true humanist”.
“He always said it was more important to be a decent human being than a great photographer. So his humanism, through his photojournalism, really shone through,” Bohane told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday.
“One of his famous lines was, ‘The only good war photography is anti-war photography,'” Bohane said.
Page was injured four times as a war correspondent covering conflicts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s.
He stood out for his flamboyant and extravagant personality as well as his talent and commitment as a photographer. Francis Ford Coppola said he was inspired by Page when he developed Hopper’s gonzo photojournalist persona in his Oscar-winning 1979 Vietnam War film.
Page worked as a freelance photographer beginning in the late 1960s for music magazines such as Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy, sharing assignments with some of the era’s most important writers such as Hunter S. Thompson. Page embraced Thompson’s reputation as a “gonzo photographer”.
He was arrested along with Jim Morrison when the Doors frontman was dragged by police from a scene in New Haven, Connecticut in 1967. Morrison was arrested on suspicion of inciting a riot , indecency and public obscenity. Page was arrested on suspicion of obstructing the police. Both spent the night in police cells before the charges were dropped.
In addition to the wars in Indochina, Page has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands, Israel, Bosnia and East Timor.
Page wrote a dozen books about his wartime experiences and his music.
He was born in Tunbridge Wells, England on May 25, 1944. He was raised by a foster family after his Merchant Navy father died in a submarine attack in the North Atlantic.
He left Britain in 1962, traveling through Europe, the Middle East and then Asia where he began photographing a civil war in Laos.
He created iconic images of the Vietnam War while working for news agencies such as AP, UPI, Time-Life and Paris Match.
He moved to Australia in 2002 to be with his longtime Australian partner Marianne Harris and became an adjunct professor of photojournalism at Griffith University in Brisbane in the state of Queensland.
He is survived by Harris and Kit Clifford, his son from a previous relationship with Clare Clifford.