Neil Leifer's most famous photo may be of a scowling Muhammad Ali
standing over a fallen Sonny Liston, but many of the
photographer's favorites come from his portfolio of portraits. In
the past four decades Leifer has shot more than 200 covers for
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME and PEOPLE, and the list of his
subjects--from Pope John Paul II to Michael Jordan to Bear Bryant
to Charles Manson--is dizzying.
Now Leifer, 60, has collected 100 of his favorite images for the
book Neil Leifer: Portraits (St. Ann's Press, $65. Available
early November). The volume's appeal lies not just in the
artistry of the portraits but in their juxtapositions. An image
of a handsome Paul Newman appears opposite one of a toothless,
grinning NHL player, Keith Magnuson. Fidel Castro and boyish
jockey Steve Cauthen smoke cigars on facing pages. Sprinter
Florence Griffith Joyner and singer Michael Jackson appear eerily
similar on another spread.
The star of the book, though, is Ali, who shows up 11 times.
"With Ali," Leifer writes, "no photographer could ever miss."
Flip through this collection and you'll realize that Leifer
B/W PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER SAY HEY Willie Mays beamed in 1962.
B/W PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER MODEL T Leifer had Pete Rose's number in '71.
B/W PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER U DA MAN Johnny Unitas enjoyed a cold one in '64.