07/14/2012 9:40PM

Tony Leonard, equine photographer, dead at age 89

John Engelhardt
Tony Leonard at the 2010 Breeders' Cup.

Tony Leonard, considered one of the most acclaimed equine photographers of all time, died Saturday night in Lexington, Ky., at age 89.

Leonard, born Leonard Anthony Bergantino, gravitated to equine photography after performing in nightclubs and on Broadway following his stint in the Army in World War II. His first benefactors were Brownell Combs of Spendthrift Farm, and the Madden family of Hamburg Place. His conformation shots became the standard in the industry.

In 1994, Leonard won an Eclipse Award for photography. He was awarded the International Photographic Council Lifetime Achievement Award by the United Nations in 2004. And he was the personal photographer to Queen Elizabeth II of England during both of her visits to Kentucky

Leonard is survived by his wife, Adelle, whom he married in 1946. Funeral arrangements are pending.

laura ban More than 1 year ago
I was sorry to read this story, he was a legend and master. In his case, 89 years old just isn't long enough. I looked up the word legend and it states that: Any person who is funny, reckless, original, sensitive and inspirational in the right measures can be thought of as a legend. That fit Tony Leonard very well. It also fits another young photographer - she is also all of the above as she learned from the master. In my opinion she has earned the number one spot and is now leader of the pack! There are other photographers out doing good work but the smart ones will pour over Barbara Livingston's work and learn from her as she did from Tony. Maybe someday they will come close.
dispute98 More than 1 year ago
Your story, Paul, was quite interesting. It is amazing how lucky we can be when meeting people we admire. Your story went full circle. There wasn't a confirmation shot at one time, that didn't have Tony Leonard's name attached. They certainly were a work of art. It was sad to hear of his passing even though there were rumors he was in ill health. Nice to read another famous equine photographer and Eclipse Award winner stating her feelings towards Tony Leondard, Citing his "mastery of photography and role model of for the ages." RIP Mr. Leonard.
Paul More than 1 year ago
I ran into Tony at the Breeders’ Cup when it was at Arlington. He was coming back to the Hotel after a very long day of shooting the event. He asked where I was from and I told him Michigan. He went on to tell me that he and his wife lived in the Detroit area many years ago doing Radio and entertainment. His stories of his previous career profession were fascinating. He mentioned a few Detroit area celebrities that he had worked with many years ago in that profession and asked if I knew who they were. The funny thing was I did and told Tony I see them from time to time while shopping. He gave me a business card to give them if I ever saw them. Well as fate would have it about 5 months later I saw these people and gave them Tony’s business card. They were so excited to get it and said they would call him. We stood in the parking lot of a strip mall as they proceeded to tell me about their time together in the Radio and entertainment business many years ago. Just fascinating. Rest in peace my friend!
Barbara Livingston More than 1 year ago
They didn't come better than Tony....a mentor, master, and role model for the ages. We'll miss you, Tony - and thank you for all that you leave behind for us.
MaryAnn Donahue More than 1 year ago
What a well written, wonderful tribute from one great photographer to another. I hope Tony is "reading" the heartfelt sentiments expressed here.
joseph More than 1 year ago
Michelle Harmon More than 1 year ago
One of my idols. RIP Tony.