Sadly we must report the death of famed biographer and photographer to Muhammad Ali, Howard Bingham who died today (12-15-16) at age 77 after an extended illness.
According to Bingham’s friend and EUR Sports columnist, Mohammed Mubarak, Bingham passed away at the Marina Point Rehabilitation Center in Culver City, California. He was there recovering from dual surgeries. At Cedars Sinai he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor. He also had his colon removed.
Bingham was the son of a minister and Pullman porter. After initially failing a photography course, he was hired by a local newspaper. While working there, he met the young Cassius Clay (later to become Muhammad Ali). The two had an instant rapport, one that led to a lifelong friendship. Bingham went on to create arguably the definitive book of photographs of Ali, Muhammad Ali: A Thirty-Year Journey.
According to Wikipedia, Bingham was one of the first black photographers to work on a Hollywood International Cinematographers Guild camera crew. Adger Cowans joined the local 644 in 1969 which became the local 600 after working on Cotton Comes to Harlem produced by MGM. His photographs have been published in magazines and periodicals including: Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People, Ebony and others. He was selected as a photographer for the 1990 project Songs of My People.
Bingham has been noted for interviewing James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as photographing the Black Panthers for LIFE at various points in his career.
In 2015, Bingham’s work was featured in an exhibit called “Light Catchers” at the California African American Museum along with six other prominent African-American photographers.
Howard Bingham is survived by his wife, Carolyn and son Dustin. Howard’s other son, Damon, died earlier this year as well.