MANSFIELD - As if claiming local historian Chester Bailey, now 101, as a native son isn't enough, it turns out Edwin Bailey, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., a longtime Associated Press photographer, is his nephew. Chester started his newspaper career as a "printer's devil" at the Mansfield Advertiser while in college in Mansfield. He started Ed on his career as a printer's devil while he was in junior high.
A staff photographer for the Associated Press for 32 years and a senior photographer for the former New York Daily Mirror, Bailey is an award-winning photographer in the New York Press Photographer's Association and was recognized by the association in 1970 as "Photographer of the Year."
Before Bailey worked for the AP as a staff photographer headquartered in New York City, his life took a series of turns, some of which he called "miraculous."
PHOTO COURTESY OF EDWIN BAILEY
Former Mansfield resident Ed Bailey stands on Madison and 48th streets in New York as he portrays a rabbi in the film “Man on a Ledge.”
One such turning point occurred after he went to West Point, knowing he was going to be drafted out of college for the Korean War in 1953, to see if he could somehow become a military musician, as either a trumpeter or a drummer.
He performed with the National Guard band at Indiantown Gap summer camp and in Mansfield's high school and college bands. He also played baritone horn and string bass as a music major at Mansfield State Teacher's College, he said.
Bailey said after he arrived at West Point, he knocked on the door and the band director opened it and asked what he could do for him.
"That was a miracle right there," he said, explaining that he was 19 years old and had gone there with no appointment, not knowing what would happen.
Even though he couldn't read drum music, Bailey said he "played some sexy beats" on the drums that he played with the local "Troy Trojans" Drum and Bugle Corps.
The director typed up a three-year contract as an Army musician at West Point after Bailey attended basic training in Army Band School at Fort Dix, N.J.
He would be promoted to corporal upon graduation of Army Band School and joining the West Point "Hellcats."
Bailey, however, had a chance to go to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, instead of West Point, which he took.
In total, Bailey played in high school, college and four Army bands before becoming an Army photographer.
Bailey's work appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide and he worked on assignments in 28 countries, including numerous assignments as a military photographer in various capacities.
He was combat photographer for the 14th Infantry Regiment 25th Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
After leaving the military, he attended the New York Institute of Technology on the G.I. Bill and went to work for Impact Photos Inc. in New York City.
Impact employed production and publicity photographers for Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, MGM and Universal Pictures.
During this time, Bailey did exclusive personal photography for the late Helena Rubenstein.
In 1976, he joined the Navy Reserve Atlantic Fleet Motion Picture Combat Camera Unit. He worked as a photographer in war zones and saw combat in Beirut, Lebanon and six months of active duty in the Gulf War.
Bailey flew in plane 7 of the Navy's "Blue Angels" for the Associated Press, photographing the aircraft coming in at 500 feet in New York Harbor and up over New York City at speeds of more than 500 mph.
He was with the 1st Marine Division in the attack into Kuwait and photographed Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, President George H.W. Bush Sr. and Barbara Bush, along with members of Congress on Thanksgiving in the desert.
Bailey retired from the Navy Reserve a chief warrant officer in 1995.
The shot that got him into the AP as a staff photographer was another odd series of events that ended with him on a helicopter with Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1972, as he flew over the Elmira and Corning, N.Y., area to view the damage done by Hurricane Agnes.
Over the years, Bailey's photo assignments brought him into working relationships with all the heads of state at the United Nations, late actors Bob Hope, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Debbie Reynolds, Peter Ustinov and the great Alfred Hitchcock, to name a few.
Bailey said he actually directed and posed Alfred Hitchcock for New York newspaper publicity for the movie "The Birds."
"We didn't shoot with 35 millimeter, we shot with 120-millimeter Rollieiflex," he said.
According to Bailey, Hitchcock was brought to the movie theater in New York by limousine and dropped off alone with Bailey.
"Ten minutes later, a truck comes up from New Jersey, stacked with pigeon crates," he said. "The driver looked to be about 90."
There was no one with him, he said it was "just Hitchcock and me and the driver."
After a few minutes of staging, with the director looking up at the marquis that read "The Birds," Bailey said he signaled the driver, who was on top of the truck full of cages, to open up a cage that contained several hundred pigeons.
"When he did, only one bird flew out," Bailey said.
"So I hollered at the truck driver, he shook the cage, and four or five birds went up."
Bailey took one photo. Hitchcock asked if he'd gotten the shot and Bailey said yes, and Hitchcock replied, "Very go-o-od," and he waved for his limo and left.
Unfortunately, Bailey said he had to relinquish all the negatives to MGM that day, so he does not have a copy of the original photo.
Since retiring from the AP about 10 years ago, Bailey has been doing some acting in New York, appearing in 25 movies and television shows, including "Men in Black 3," "Blue Bloods," "Hostages," "Law and Order" and as a rabbi in "Man on a Ledge."
On Sept. 11, he appeared in a jury in Alan Alda's first episode of "Brains on Trial," on PBS.
Bailey still is taking photographs as a freelancer for the AP, Straus Newspapers, Times-Herald Record and the New Jersey Record.