December 14, 1998 12:00 PM

Monroe did it. So did Nixon and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. When photographer Philippe Halsman, who died in 1979 at age 73, snapped his Rollei, people jumped—and the result was some of the century’s most indelible images. “His pictures are part of our common memory,” says Mary Panzer, curator of photographs at Washington’s National Portrait Gallery, the first stop on a five-city tour of Halsman’s work that also includes his earthbound portraits of personalities from Albert Einstein to Barbra Streisand. As subjects leap, Halsman, who shot a record 101 covers for LIFE magazine, once wrote, “the mask falls, so that the real person appears.” Of some 300 people asked, says his widow, Yvonne, 86, three refused: President Herbert Hoover, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and pianist Van Cliburn. Says Halsman’s daughter Jane Halsman Bello, 57, editor with her husband, Steve, of Halsman: A Retrospective: “People knew they could trust him.”

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