While Ellen DeGeneres gave the celebrity selfie a higher profile than it has ever had before with her recent antics as host of the Oscars, the idea is nothing new.
In a story headlined "Hollywood Cameraman Insists He Invented the Celebrity Selfie in 1981," the Los Angeles Times reports that Lester Wisbrod has stepped forward to claim credit for the idea. The veteran cameraman appears in dozens of photos with celebrities such as Clint Eastwood and Jennifer Aniston, “selfies” taken of himself and the A-listers in the years before mobile phones or even digital cameras, the story notes.
Wisbrod says he started taking the photos in 1981 after the introduction of Canon’s Sure Shot 35-millimeter compact camera, which was one of the first cameras with autofocus.
“Generally I am not that ostentatious," Wisbrod, 67, said. "It just seems like it is bad form to be bragging. But what the hell."
His first selfie came out blurry (it was with Art Buchwald, the humorist), but he improved and called the photos “silly shots,” while his friends called them “Lesters.”
“The photographs capture Hollywood in all of its mystifying allure," the Times piece reports. "For every enduring star there's a has-been, and plenty of former cultural touchstones who long ago faded to obscurity."
Wisbrod, who worked on shows including “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” had a routine, first chatting up a star before asking for a snapshot. He says he was only turned down once, when “M*A*S*H" actress Loretta Swit said she’d take a photo, but only if someone else took it.
“I awkwardly withdrew," he said.