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The University of Texas at Austin


Briscoe Center Acquires Acclaimed Photographer John Bryson's Archive

Ernest Hemingway kicking a can down the road in Alaska, 1959, Photo by John BrysonErnest Hemingway kicking a can down the road in Idaho, 1959. Photo by John Bryson

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the John Bryson Photographic Archive.

Bryson spent many years photographing the Hollywood elite, and his archive includes images of Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, Norman Mailer and Sylvester Stallone, as well as images from the sets of Hollywood films, including Ben Hur, Octopussy and King Kong.

"This is an outstanding addition to the center's photojournalism holdings," said Don Carleton, executive director at the Briscoe Center. "Bryson was the sort of photographer who used his charm as well as his camera to insert himself into the private lives of celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn and Armand Hammer."

Spanning 1945–1995, the Bryson Archive consists of photographs, screenplays, tear sheets, correspondence and manuscript materials. In addition to celebrity photography, the collection includes images from the 1977 interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon, and Fidel Castro's meeting with Mary Hemingway after her husband's death.

"Bryson is perhaps most famous for snapping Ernest Hemingway in 1959 kicking a can down the road in Idaho," said Alison Beck, director of special projects at the Briscoe Center. "The archive includes a letter from Hemingway's widow asserting that it was his favorite photograph of himself."

Bryson was born in Brownwood, Texas, in 1923. During his time at the University of Texas at Austin, he was the editor of the university magazine, the Texas Ranger. After graduating he worked for Life magazine as a correspondent, bureau chief and picture editor, later becoming a freelancer. He died in Brookings, Oregon, in 2005.

The Briscoe Center's holdings include the archives of Eddie Adams, David Hume Kennerly, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Dominick Dunne, furnishing researchers with unparalleled resources regarding the history of news media in the twentieth century.