Portrait of Ralph Crane with his camera and a trained space chimpanzee. (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Portrait of Ralph Crane with his camera and a trained space chimpanzee. (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Ralph Crane (1913-1988) was born in a small German town, the son and grandson of physicians. It was expected, of course, that he, too, would become a doctor, but instead he was drawn to a very interesting hobby of his father’s: photography. In the end, one of his father’s patients got the 18-year-old “Rudi” a job carrying equipment for the Wide World Photo agency. Crane moved to the U.S. in 1941 and started out with the agency Black Star (the source for many LIFE photographers). Much of the work he did for Black Star ended up in LIFE, which he finally joined as a staffer in 1951. A meticulous worker, he could handle any kind of story, always burbling with vitality and the hearty chortie that earned him the sobriquet Whooping Crane. 

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Black cats and their owners in line for audition and casting for movie "Tales of Terror." (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Black cats and their owners in line for audition and casting for movie “Tales of Terror.” (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

LIFE magazine cover published on October 4, 1968. Featuring a picture of a sea probe. (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

LIFE magazine cover published on October 4, 1968. Featuring a picture of a sea probe. (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

Owner of the foam rubber store, Forcite, Inc., Victor Sabatino questioning a Chicago administrative manager Herman Horowitz. (Photo by Grey Villet/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Grey Villet

MIT student using a MAC computer for project study of artificial intelligence. (Photo by Leonard Mccombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Leonard McCombe

An unidentified woman looks at the tag on one of many paintings in a storage room in the home of financier and art collector Chester Dale, New York, New York, 1938. (Photo by Rex Hardy/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Rex Hardy

An Arabian showing off his head-dress while taking a drink of water. (Photo by James Jarche/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

James Jarche

Wife and daughter of a US soldier sitting in a first class dining car looking out at German "expels" travelling in boxcars. (Photo by Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Walter Sanders

Columnist Sidney Skolsky (L) catching a ride on Bob Hope's (R) bicycle on his way from his dressing room to the sound stage. (Photo by John Florea/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Florea