Bill Wood was a photographer. After spending almost 40 years supplying residents of Fort Worth, Texas, with everything from spare flashbulbs to professional portraits, Wood died in 1973, shortly after an actress named Diane Keaton nabbed her first major film role, in The Godfather. Wood and Keaton never met, but she ended up with 20,000 of his negatives from the late 1950s and 1960s. This May, the International Center of Photography will mount “Bill Wood’s Business,” an exhibition of Wood’s photos (that’s one, above) curated by Keaton and Marvin Heiferman. The show will be accompanied by a book of the same name.
Last fall in the New York Review of Books, Larry McMurtry wrote tenderly about Keaton and her passion for photography, noting her talent for:
…sniff[ing] out collections or archives of photographs that she feels are unjustly overlooked, neglected, or lost — like, very often, the tarnished human beings who appear in them. Once convinced, she mothers these archives and attempts to arrange for their exhibition and safekeeping and, so far, publication in five books to which she’s written prefaces. They include pictures of actors doing publicity stills in the Technicolor era (Still Life, 1983), clown paintings (Clown Paintings, 2002), salesmen in training (Mr. Salesman, 1993), [and] tabloid photographs from the long-defunct Los Angeles Herald Express (Local News, 1999)…
As for the Bill Wood photos, his family was shocked learn their fate. “We are flabbergasted,” Wood’s daughter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I got this call from New York City out of the blue. It’s just remarkable that Diane Keaton wound up with our dad’s photos.”