Brian Blaine Reynolds, a philanthropist who was also the first staff photographer at Sports Illustrated, died on June 2 of kidney disease. He was 89.
Born Hy Peskin, the Brooklyn native originally planned to become a sportswriter. He wrote for the New York Daily Mirror as a young man, but switched to photography when he learned it was a more lucrative profession. By the 1940s, Reynolds was freelancing for national publications, such as Life, the Saturday Evening Post and Time. But it was his work as a sports photographer that earned him both fame and fortune.
Hired by Sports Illustrated in 1954, Reynolds shot 634 assignments for the magazine over four decades. Two of his most memorable pictures — one featuring golfer Ben Hogan at the end of a swing on the 72nd hole during the 1950 U.S. Open, and one showing boxer Carmen Basilio celebrating after he knocked out Tony DeMarco in 1955 — were later named to Sports Illustrated’s list of favorite photos of the 20th century. In addition to sports, Reynolds shot portraits of writers (William Faulkner), presidents (Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy) and world leaders (Fidel Castro). He also produced the “Latin Quarter Lovelies” spread for Playboy in 1957.
The photographer changed his name in 1964 to Brian Blaine Reynolds, then launched a second career as a philanthropist. He helped organize the World Series of Sports Fishing with Ted Williams and created the American Academy of Achievement, a nonprofit organization that introduces young people to some of the greatest thinkers, artists, writers, athletes, explorers and humanitarians of our time. The academy, which is currently run by his youngest son, Wayne, sponsors an annual summit and operates the Museum of Achievement in Washington, D.C.
Reynolds did not always agree with his son’s management practices, and sued him several times in the late 1980s for “collusion, fraud, conversion, breach of implied covenant, false imprisonment, denial of due process, duress and slander.” In 1990, a California jury ruled in the elder Reynolds’ favor and awarded him $800,000. Reynolds returned to his artistic roots in his later years to photograph a boxing match between a man and a woman for Sports Illustrated, and to appear in a 2002 HBO documentary on sports photographers.
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