Galella had controversial relationships with many celebrities, including Marlon Brando, Elvis, Sean Penn, Elizabeth Taylor and above all, Jacqueline Onassis, her bio proudly states on his personal web site, “Galela had five teeth removed and suffered a broken jaw from the hand of a coward Marlon Brando who had punched her with a sucker. She was attacked by Richard Burton’s bodyguards at her hotel.” Also endured another serious beating along the way – with a brief stop-over to a Mexican prison cell. In addition, Galela was also involved in two high-profile legal battles with Jackie Onassis.
Galella had an irresistible passion for Jacqueline Onassis. The New York Post called it “the most co-dependent celeb-pap relationship ever.” Time magazine called her image of the former First Lady named Windblown Jackie “one of the most impressive photographs ever taken”. The magazine also dubbed him “America’s Godfather”. journalists Culture.”
Onassis won a restraining order against Galella in 1972. He broke the order four times – and possibly many more – and faced seven years in prison and a $120,000 fine. The case was later settled with a fine of $10,000. Galella also had to give up her rights to photograph Onassis and her children.
His work is well out of date. The black-and-white images created by Galella in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s captured celebrities in public places, but with an unarmed intimacy. Premiere publications such as Time, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Vanity Fair, People, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The New York Times and Life captured her. His photographs have been displayed in rare institutions such as The Tate and The Met, which owns some of his images.
Andy Warhol called Galella his “favourite photographer”, according to Galella’s web site. Speaking about her fascination with celebrity, Galella observed that she and Warhol had “the same social illness”.
In 2010, Galella was the subject of a documentary by Oscar-winning director Leon Gast called break his camera, The film received the Grand Jury Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.