There are so many statistics entwined in the career of Jerry Cooke that his associates must pause now and then to bring him up to date like a new baseball yearbook. For the record, Cooke now has visited 83 countries and every continent except Antarctica as a photojournalist. He has covered the last 18 Kentucky Derbies and nine Olympics—five winter and four summer, to be precise. In the material usually covered by asterisks in record books, let it be noted that the Cooke's tours mentioned above include the North Pole twice, and that he speaks four languages fluently and "fiddles around with Polish." Now we are scheduling our own new entry for Cooke.
In keeping with the demands of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S increasing use of four-color news and feature photography, Cooke soon will assume the new title of Chief Photographer. In this position he will work with Picture Editor George J. Bloodgood advising and assisting other cameramen and in planning new projects.
The advice and assistance will be particularly welcomed since most photographers feel that, somehow, somewhere, Cooke has done it all. In fact, he has been on the move since his family left Russia in 1922 when Jerry was a month old and his name was still Yuri Kuchuk. He was educated in Italy, Germany and India, and arrived in the U.S. in 1939 looking for a profession. Columbia University didn't excite him but cameras did, and in 1941 he drew his first sports photo assignment—a football game. Never having seen football, Cooke recalls, "I couldn't figure out why all the photographers were standing on the sidelines when obviously right behind the goal line was the best spot. So I stood there. First touchdown, they wiped me out and broke all my equipment." So it is that one learns how to photograph sports.
At right is a sampler of Cooke in action: testing the Olympic track at Munich; semisubmerged to shoot boating; artfully disguised as a gentleman of leisure at Ascot; and, most recently, Secretariat-watching at Saratoga. In his new job, when the urge becomes overpowering—as it inevitably will—Cooke may hit the road again from time to time. Somewhere out there, someplace, there must be at least one location where he hasn't taken a picture.