News Photographer Arnie Sachs; Took Pictures of 11 Presidents

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Arnie Sachs, 78, a Washington news photographer who took a memorable image from 1963 of a young Bill Clinton shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden, died Nov. 3 at his daughter's home in Dunkirk. He had bone cancer.

Mr. Sachs was on a freelance assignment for the American Legion that July 24 when Clinton came from Arkansas to the White House for the Legion's youth leadership group, Boys Nation.

Mostly, he photographed Legion officials posing with the president. "Next thing I know, this kid barrels through the line and grabs the president's hand, so I took the shot," he later told the Baltimore Jewish Times.

In his memoir, "My Life," Clinton said he was determined to shake the president's hand, but the moment with Kennedy did not instigate his presidential aspirations. However, Mr. Sachs's picture was heavily promoted during the 1992 Democratic national convention and has since been much reproduced.

Benjamin Ginsberg, a Johns Hopkins University political science professor, told the Baltimore Jewish Times that the picture was important for how it appeared to make Clinton Kennedy's heir apparent.

Arnold Sachs was born June 17, 1928, in the Bronx, N.Y., and began his professional life as a jeweler's apprentice. Bored by his job and riveted by the pictures he saw in the New York Daily Mirror, a Hearst tabloid, he opted for a photojournalism career. He soon sold his first picture, of a house fire in his neighborhood.

In 1946, he became a messenger boy for Hearst newspapers in New York, and five years later, he was a Washington-based photographer for Hearst's International News Photos wire service.

His most enduring shot of the period, "Fallen Integration Fighter" (1957), showed a Little Rock protester lying on the ground and trying to wrest a bayonet from a paratrooper as the soldiers march over him.

That picture won the White House News Photographers' Association grand prize and spot news awards.

He also worked for the old Washington Star and, starting in the early 1960s, spent more than 20 years with Agence France-Presse.

For much of his life, he and his wife also co-owned and operated a photographic news agency and a retail store in Southeast Washington. Consolidated News Photos and the Congressional Photo Shoppe, respectively, operated from the same store a block from Capitol Hill.

He covered political conventions and spacecraft launches and took many freelance assignments that brought him in contact with world leaders in Washington. In all, he covered 11 presidents, from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush.

Mr. Sachs, an Oxon Hill resident, was a Democratic Party volunteer in Prince George's County.

He took campaign pictures for Del. Charles S. Blumenthal (D-Prince George's) when Blumenthal, running for the U.S. House in 1976, made a parachute jump to recall his hale days as a World War II paratrooper. Blumenthal did not win the race but got a great deal of publicity.

Mr. Sachs, who described civil rights as a lifetime concern, played a role in getting the White House News Photographers' Association to include Maurice Sorrell of Johnson Publications as one of its first black members.

He won the association's lifetime achievement award for still photography in 2001.

His wife of 54 years, Lorraine Chimkin Sachs, died in 2004.

Survivors include four children, Ronald M. Sachs of Silver Spring, Howard L. Sachs of Woodbridge, Todd S. Sachs of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Susan Sachs Brown of Dunkirk; two sisters; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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