Arts and Entertainment

New Kensington to host special presentation with 'Eddie Adams: Vietnam' exhibit

Alyssa Adams, his widow, and Hal Buell, a colleague at the Associated Press, discuss the career of former city of New Kensington native

The wounded and dead in a Saigon street during the Tet Offensive. The photo, #37, is a part of the Eddie Adams exhibit that runs through Aug. 27 at Penn State New Kensington. Credit: Eddie Adams: VietnamAll Rights Reserved.

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. — In conjunction with the “Eddie Adams: Vietnam” exhibit honoring the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams, a special presentation will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28, in the Art Gallery at Penn State New Kensington.

Adams’ widow, Alyssa Adams of TV Guide, Bathhouse Studios and Barnstorm; the Eddie Adams workshop; and Hal Buell of The Associated Press, will provide personal perspectives of the famed photographer. During Vietnam, Adams did three tours working for AP. Buell, a veteran photo editor, spent 41 years with AP. He led its worldwide photo operation for 25 of those years, managing an international picture system that existed from the days of flash powder to the use of digital cameras and transmission systems.

Complementing the presentation is a documentary, “An Unlikely Weapon, the Eddie Adams Story,” at 1 p.m. in the gallery. Written and directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, the film portrays Adams' career from a war photographer to a celebrity photographer. The focus of the documentary is the collateral damage wrought by his famous photograph of Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner on the second day of the Tet Offensive.

The serendipitous shot of the shooting (Adams didn’t realize the magnitude of the photo until he developed the film) earned Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography. The 35 mm photo destroyed Loan’s career and was instrumental in the rise of protest demonstrations in the United States against the war. Adams loathed the consequences. The photograph was not his favorite because it did not tell the whole story. Loan was reacting to the prisoner’s complicity in the recent murders of his aide and American soldiers. The globally acclaimed photographer offered his apologies to Loan after the fallout from the published photo, and again when they met 30 years later. Adams also was disturbed by the anti-war movement usurping his work.

The exhibit and reception are free to the public. The gallery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m. weekends. For more information, call 724-334-6057

Eddie Adams DayFollowing the presentation at the campus gallery, “Eddie Adams Day” will be celebrated at 6 p.m. at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell. Sponsored by the New Kensington Camera Club, the dinner features special guest speaker Walter Anderson, retired CEO of Parade magazine. Anderson hired Adams as a special correspondent, and the two worked together for 12 years. Adams’ work appeared on the cover of Anderson's magazine more than 350 times.

“Eddie’s genius is his talent for capturing tension in every photo, whether it be the still of a murder or the animation in the eyes of a movie star,” said Anderson, an author and playwright. “He is eclectic, incomparable and cantankerous. He is unyielding in the pursuit of excellence.”

Tickets for the event are $35. To reserve a seat or for more information, call Jim Thomas at 724-337-7500 or email

Eddie Adams historical markerThe Adams commemoration continues the next day with the dedication of a Pennsylvania historic marker at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29, in downtown New Kensington. The marker honoring Adams will be placed at the corner of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue, near the town clock. The event is a collaboration of the Camera Club, Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society (AKVHS), the city of New Kensington, Westmoreland County and the Commonwealth.

After the unveiling of the historical marker, a reception is slated for 4 p.m. at the AKVHS Heritage Museum, located at 224 East Seventh Avenue in Tarentum. The museum’s Eddie Adams exhibit features 21 of the photojournalist’s pieces that were shown in an exhibition in France, a collection of Parade magazine covers donated by his close friend Lou Cavaliere, photos of Adams’ visit to the museum in 1987, and a collection of his early works. The display will run until June 15. The reception and exhibit are free to the public.

The Heritage Museum houses a resource library and collections of artifacts of local significance. Its regular hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday. For more information on the museum and reception, visit                  Eddie Adams exhibit at Penn State New Kensington“Eddie Adams: Vietnam” features 50 photographs of the war and of refugees escaping the war. The show runs until Aug. 27 in the campus gallery.

Interspersed with the photos are Adams’ quotes about the war. Also included are his thoughts on photography, especially of his most famous shot: “Pictures do lie. Pictures don’t tell the whole story. You’re looking at 1/500th of a second — it’s a moment. It doesn’t tell you why … you don’t see all the sides. But pictures are important because people believe in them.”

In a more than 50-year career as a working photographer, Adams covered 13 wars, from Korea to Vietnam to Kuwait.

For more about Adams, visit

For photos of the exhibit, visit

People gather to look at a Viet Cong killed in the western section of Saigon. This is photo #38 in the "Eddie Adams: Vietnam" exhibit. Credit: Eddie Adams: VietnamAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated May 25, 2016