Rex Simpson Hardy, one of Life magazine’s original photographers, died on April 7 of cancer. He was 88.
Hardy was only 21 and a senior at Stanford University when the publication hired him in 1936. He made $30/week taking pictures of Hollywood stars like James Stewart, Bing Crosby, George Gershwin, Tyrone Power and Clark Gable. Three of his photographs appeared on the cover of Life: Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire, journalist bon vivant Lucius Beebe and comedian Harpo Marx posing like a Roman emperor.
Hardy left the publication in 1939 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve. He was a junior officer on the Saratoga after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, Hardy trained as a naval pilot. He was sent to the South Pacific and served as the commander of a B-24 bomber designed for reconnaissance.
When he returned to the states, Hardy spent the rest of his life in aviation, working for Northrop, Lockheed and NASA. For his military service, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal with a Gold Star.