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Rigid, semiconscious, his face an ashen mask, Sen. Robert Kennedy lies in a pool of his own blood on the concrete floor, a bullet deep in his brain and another in his neck. Juan Romero, a busboy whose hand Kennedy had shaken before the shots, tried to comfort him. (Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Bill Eppridge, Photographer Who Captured RFK's Death, Dies at 75

by Coburn Dukehart
Oct 3, 2013

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Bill Eppridge, a legendary photojournalist who spent most of his career working for Life magazine and Sports Illustrated, died Thursday in Danbury, Conn. He had been suffering from a blood infection brought on by a fall that injured his hand, according to the National Press Photographers Association. He was 75.

According to The Echo Foundation, Eppridge began his photojournalism career as a student at the University of Missouri in 1960. He later embarked on a nine-month journey around the world on his first professional assignment for National Geographic. He then started shooting for Life — a publication he had admired since childhood.

During the course of his career with Life, Eppridge covered, among other stories, revolutions in Latin America, the Beatles' arrival in the U.S., a young Barbra Streisand, a story on heroin addiction and the funeral of slain civil rights worker James Chaney in Mississippi in 1964.

Eppridge is perhaps most famously known for photographing the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968. He had followed Kennedy on the campaign trail in 1966 and had intimate access to the senator. The night of the assassination, Eppridge covered Kennedy's speech to a packed ballroom, then followed him back to the hotel kitchen, where he was shot in a nearby passageway by 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. Eppridge's photo of Kennedy on the floor being held by busboy Juan Romero is a stark, haunting image, where the senator is seen illuminated by a halo of light.

(View a full gallery of Eppridge's images from that night at LIFE.com.)

After Life folded in 1972, Eppridge went on to work at Sports Illustrated as well as becoming a teacher at Yale and various photo workshops. At the time of his death he was working with his wife, Adrienne Aurichio, on a photo book showcasing his work covering the Beatles' invasion of America. The book is due to be released in early 2014.

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