The Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Rocco Morabito, famous for his shot of a utility line worker saving the life a fellow lineman, died this past weekend. He was 88. According to news reports Morabito's health had been in decline and he had been in hospice care for some time.
His photograph, tagged "Kiss of Life" by editors at Florida’s Jacksonville Journal, appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world in 1967. The photo dramatically details electrical lineman Randall Champion dangling unconscious from the power pole after being shocked by the high-voltage wire, as fellow lineman J.D. Thompson tries resuscitating him. Morabito was driving along West 26th Street in Jacksonville in July 1967 after returning from covering a railroad strike when he saw the incident. He called his paper to call an ambulance then grabbed his camera.
Morabito won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1968.
Earlier in his career another of Morabito’s most famous images was featured in Life magazine. In 1958 his photograph of some elementary school kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance along with a pet rabbit, its paws over its heart, was given the full page Life treatment.
Morabito, once a newsboy selling papers, worked his way into photography for the Jacksonville Journal following the Second World War where he served as a B-17 ball-turret gunner. He worked for the paper for some 42 years, 33 of them as a photographer. Morabito retired in 1982.
As for Randall Champion, he survived being electrocuted and died thirty five years later in 2002 at the age of 64.