Bud Lee was a one-day salesman at Tiffany’s, a server who gave away too much ice cream at Daddy Michael’s Ice Cream Parlor in Scarsdale, and a Mid-town New York Hilton Hotel ballroom set-up man, eventually fired for giving away food.
Bud worked as a professional photographer on assignment for many publications during forty years. He had a remarkable eye and passion for the diverse and sometimes bizarre elements in everyone. Before joining the Army, Bud was a one-day salesman at Tiffany’s, a server who gave away too much ice cream at Daddy Michael’s Ice Cream Parlor, and a Hilton ballroom set-up man, fired for giving away food. He attended Columbia School of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Fine Arts in New York, and the Art Students League. However, it was the Army that sent him to film school and gave him a life-long career as a photographer. Bud photographed for Esquire Magazine during the important Managing Editor Harold Hayes era, and worked with some of the most relevant writers, editors and art directors of the 1960’s. ”Hayes gave me the best jobs,” Bud said, ”international film directors like Francois Truffaut, Michelangelo Antonioni and American directors such as Sam Peckinpah, and Arthur Penn and big jocks like Charles Atlas and Bob Richards, Mr. America.”
A frequent visitor of Andy Warhol’s Factory, Bud did the photos for a 1976 story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine for the cover piece on presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. The artist then created what turned out to be a very innovative cover for the same issue.
On assignment Bud photographed Hollywood legends, among them Clint Eastwood, Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), Jane Russell, Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Andy Kaufman and countless more. Bud also photographed writers such as Tennessee Williams and James Leo Herlihy and many musicians for Rolling Stone Magazine. He spent time with film director Federico Fellini working on two of his projects; Satyricon (with the recently deceased Mary Ellen Mark) and Fellini’s Clowns. When assignments did take him away from home, he traveled with photographs of his children in a camera bag, saying they kept evil spirits away from him. In 2003 Bud suffered two strokes that left him partially paralyzed, and he spent the last 12 years in a nursing home. Unable to take pictures, he returned to an early love, painting and drawing. Bud died in 2015 following complications from surgery.