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

The kitchen in President Harry Truman's family home. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Henry Groskinsky

Drawing room at Notre-Dame-de-Vie withPortraits of Picasso and wife Jacqueline taken by David Douglas Duncan (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

David Douglas Duncan

LIFE photographer Philippe Halsman poised w. camera in serious portrait. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Philippe Halsman

Tarsiers,an animal native to Indonesia and Philippines, eating a lizard alive. (Photo by Sam Shere/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Sam Shere

Leopard about to kill a terrified baboon. (Photo by John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Dominis

An elderly Chinese man ice skating. (Photo by Jack Wilkes/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Jack Wilkes