From the Archives: Elaine Kaufman Versus Celebrity Photog Ron Galella


Photographer Ron Galella’s run-in with the infamously fabulous restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, who passed away today, produced the photo above, as described in an Intelligencer item by Neal Travis in the June 19, 1978, issue of New York:

Ron Galella, prince of the paparazzi, has been enjoined by Jackie and assaulted by Marlon, but he’s never had an experience like the one the other night on Second Avenue. Galella had taken up a position outside Elaine’s and was snapping the celebrities as they emerged. “It was a super crop,” he remembers. “Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, Liv Ullmann, Cheryl Tiegs.”

Then came the owner, Elaine Kaufman. “Beat it, creep,” she told Galella. “You’re bothering my customers.” When Galella didn’t budge, Elaine grabbed the lids of two garbage cans and threw them at him, Frisbee style. That didn’t work, so she then hefted the cans themselves and flung them, scoring a direct hit with the second. Galella fled into the night and Elaine returned to her saloon. “Nobody messes with my people," she told us.

WWD reported, years later: "It missed and hit the fender of a limousine instead," recalls Galella, who kept on shooting and got a hilarious shot of Kaufman just as she launched the scud missile at his head. "I sold it to New York magazine and they ran it in the Intelligencer," Galella concludes. "She was nice to me after that."