Framing History

Whether he was witnessing the city’s tumultuous riots of the 1960s or visiting the South Pole, North Olmsted photographer Ron Kuntz was always looking for his next photo. During his 50-year career with United Press International and Reuters, Kuntz’s work appeared in newspapers throughout the world and is now collected in a book about his career written by Burt Graeff,A Cleveland Original: 50 Years Behind the Lens (Cleveland Landmarks Press, $18.95). We talked with Kuntz, a four-time Pulitzer nominee, about the people and events he witnessed through the viewfinder of his camera.
Michael Bartlett

On Sam Shepard > Sam and [second wife] Ariane Tebbenjohanns set up a place on Wooster Road in Rocky River, so I got to know him fairly well. ... Once I asked Sam if I could get a photo of him and his wife, and he said he would have to ask Ariane. As he walked away, I noticed a pistol in his pocket. He said it was a nine-shot German Mauser. He removed the clip and said, “Somebody killed my first wife, and I’m not going to let it happen again.”

On the Hough riot 
> “I got a picture that was seen around the world of a dry-cleaning establishment that was being looted with a couple cops right there. ... The Glenville riot was kind of touchy, too. ... I got out of the car and tried to take photos but was surrounded by the crowd there. But there was a guy named Baxter Hill, one of the leaders of the black movement there; he saw my predicament and led me to a nearby store. The owner had a shotgun, and they both helped me to escape to my car.”

On his friendship with Omar Vizquel >
“When he came into town last year with the Giants, we got together. ... I wasn’t completely surprised when I was asked to toss out the first pitch [in 2004] and was told it was Omar who had asked them to have me do it.”

On his favorite kind of photo >
“I’ve been partial to the Olympic Games. I remember the Munich Games in 1972. There were only four photographer allowed in the infield, and I was one of the four. I saw the Olympic torch in the background, and I thought,Here’s a little guy from Cleveland, Ohio, covering this major sporting event. And then my picture of [West German Ulrike Meyfarth] winning the women’s high jump won best photo of the games.”
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