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Linda McCartney Dies at 56

Photographer, activist and Beatle wife, succumbs to cancer

Less than three years after it was announced that she was being
treated for breast cancer, Linda McCartney, noted photographer,
animal rights activist and wife of Beatle Paul for twenty-nine
years, passed away Friday. Although her chemotherapy treatments had
seemed to have her cancer in check, she took a turn for the worse
in March when the disease spread to her liver. She was fifty-six.

Throughout their twenty-nine year relationship, Linda and
husband Paul were inseparable; the pair reportedly only spent ten
nights apart, a separation due to Paul’s stint in a Tokyo jail for
marijuana possession. When Paul formed Wings after the dissolution
of the Beatles, the couple’s partnership extended to the musical
realm. Although Linda’s keyboard playing and backup vocals raised a
few critical eyebrows, she did share an Oscar nomination with her
husband for their composition “Live and Let Die.”

But it was through a camera lens that she made her biggest
impression in rock music. While working as a receptionist at
Town and Country magazine in the mid-Sixties, she snagged
a press pass to a Rolling Stones promotional yacht party, finagling
her way on board through sheer persistence while every other
photographer was left standing on the dock. Her exclusive photos of
the band were snatched up by dozens of papers and magazines, and
she quickly made a name for herself shooting publicity photos for a
number of bands and capturing them on tour by assignment. On May
11, 1968, she became the first woman photographer to shoot a
Rolling Stone cover (Eric Clapton). She appeared on the
front of the magazine herself with Paul on January 31, 1974, making
her the only person to have shot — and been shot — for the
publication’s cover.

Eschewing flash for natural light, she captured her subjects in
intimate backstage moments that often revealed a private side of
performers rarely seen. Her work has been reprinted in several
books and exhibited at more than fifty galleries around the world,
including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Linda’s reputation quickly established her as insider in
celebrity circles, and at one point she dated actor Warren Beatty.
She first met Paul, the “cute one” and object of affection for
thousands of girls worldwide, at a launch party for Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
in 1967. He invited her back
to London during the recording of the White Album. A
romance ensued, and the couple wed on March 12, 1969. They spent
much of their time out of the public eye on their farm in West
Sussex, England. She became the inspiration for all of Paul’s
post-1968 love songs, including “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

Born Linda Louise Eastman on September 24, 1941, McCartney was
the daughter of show business lawyer Lee Eastman and mother Louise
(whose family owned the Linder department stores). Her father, the
son of Russian Jewish immigrants, had changed his name from
Epstein, and was not part of the Eastman-Kodak photography legacy
as was frequently reported at the time of Linda’s marriage to Paul.
Although not an heiress, she did become Lady Linda when her husband
was knighted in 1997.

Outside of her photography and famous marriage, McCartney was
also widely recognized as a staunch supporter of animal rights and
die-hard vegetarian. The latter passion spawned two cookbooks and a
successful line of frozen vegetable dinners. The couple were even
featured on The Simpsons supporting little Lisa in her
decision to give up meat. In lieu of flowers, Paul has asked that
people wishing to honor his wife’s memory contribute to cancer
research, animal welfare, “or — best of all — the tribute that
Linda herself would like best: Go veggie.”

At the time of her death, Linda, Paul and their children had
been vacationing in Santa Barbara, Ca., with the couple reportedly
horseback riding earlier in the week. In addition to her husband,
she is survived by their children Mary, Stella, and James; her
daughter Heather from a previous marriage; her sisters Laura and
Louise and brother John, McCartney’s business manager and
lawyer.

In This Article: Paul McCartney

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