Howard Bingham, Legendary Photographer of Muhammad Ali, Dies At 77

On June 12, 1994, when O.J. Simpson left LAX. for Chicago shortly before midnight and roughly 90 minutes after Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed, storied photographer Howard Bingham was on the same flight. At Simpson’s fiery trial he was called to testify as to Simpson's demeanor

Naturally, Bingham was the only witness both defense and prosecution liked.

Johnnie Cochran, approaching the witness: “Are you a world-renowned photographer?”

Bingham: “The world's greatest.”

Cochran: “So, we’re clear about that.”

Later, on cross-examination, when Marcia Clark made a passing reference to Bingham as an outstanding photographer, Judge Lance Ito interrupted: “Uh, the world’s greatest.”

Bingham: “You’re a smart man, judge.”

Howard Bingham died Thursday, Dec. 15 at the age of 77.

"Howard, one of the kindest people I've known, used that kindness to win friends around the globe and help mankind by using his lens to reveal humanity in its stark, unblemished beauty." said Tim Watkins of the Watt Labor Community Action Committee who knew Bingham for over 50 years. "He photographed the greatest of greats yet never lost his connection and love for Watts where his family settled many decades ago.".

Bingham was a photographer for the African American newspaper Los Angeles Sentinel in 1962 when he was assigned to cover a professional fight by an up-an-coming young boxer named Cassius Clay. 

The rest, as has often been said, is history.

One of the great phone calls of my life came from Howard. I was at my desk at the Los Angeles Times after having covered Muhammad Ali coming to Watts in 1996 or '97..

The phone rang. I picked up.

"This is Howard Bingham. The Champ wants to talk to you."