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

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

President Harry S. Truman waving his hat as he holds up a king salmon while fishing with others on Puget Sound. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Skadding

American destroyer USS Vesole escorting the Russian freighter Polzunov into international waters. The freighter is loaded with nuclear missiles and related equipment bound for the Soviet Union after being removed from Cuban soil, bringing an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Carl Mydans

Washington, D.C. skyline in 1901. (Photo by Charles Phillips/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Charles Philips

African-American student Virginius B. Thornton receiving tolerance training before picketing. (Photo by Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Howard Sochurek

President Franklin D. Roosevelt listening to speeches. (Photo by Thomas McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Thomas McAvoy