Hollywood hit Nightcrawler transformed the tales of the real-life press photographer, known as ‘Weegee’, into an award winning US blockbuster that grossed more than $50million (£40million) at the box office. While the fictional adaptation captivated audiences, actual accounts about the crime scene snapper are just as intriguing. Contrary to the film, Weegee was not known to have killed anyone but regularly would get to the sites where murders and accidents took place long before authorities. This would lead to the birth of his nickname ‘Weegee’, which he adopted and soon became his brand trademark. Some of the photographs have not been seen for more than eight decades but they offer a greater insight into the man behind the iconic images and gruesome goings on in New York.
While many may only know of Weegee through the film ‘Nightcrawler’, the legendary documentarian’s photographs are considered among the most famous and defining of 20th Century journalism.
Through his camera lens, he was able to immortalise a now long-lost New York, whose gritty beginnings are but a mere memory.
The gruesome and shocking shots taken by Weegee are far divorced from the glitz, glamour and bright LED billboards seen in the Big Apple today.
Weegee documented murders, fires, car crashes, court cases and street life from the Thirties until 1968 when he died.
Unearthed photographs were sold by Heritage Auctions last month, who told Express.co.uk about the fascinating man behind the myth.
Nigel Russell, Heritage Auctions Director of Photography, explained that Weegee was “the archetype for the cigar-chomping, hard-boiled news photographer portrayed in many Hollywood films”.
Unearthed 80-year-old photographs from the man behind the 'Nightcrawler' character has been revealed (Image: HERITAGE AUCTIONS / ELEVATIONPICS)
US news: Jake Gyllenhaal, played a fictionalised version of Weegee, in the film 'Nightcrawler' (Image: GETTY )
They include Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Louis ‘Lou’ Bloom in the 2014 film ‘Nightcrawler’ and Joe Pesci’s role Leon ‘Bernzy’ Bernstein in the 1992 hit ‘The Public Eye’.
Mr Russell explained that long before the infamous nickname, which he stamped as ‘Weegee the Famous’ on the back pictures, the photographer was named Arthur ‘Usher’ Fellig and was a Ukrainian immigrant.
He told Express.co.uk: “He got the nickname ‘Weegee’ from the police and other photographers, as he always seemed to be first on the scene before anyone else.
“They would joke, ‘How could he possibly be there? He must have a ouija board’, which he adopted with a different spelling.
“It turned out that he was one of the first people outside of law enforcement to have what would be the equivalent of a police radio back then.”
Mr Russel believes he must have obtained one through “bribing a police officer” or through other unlawful means.
JUST IN: House price shock: Why £800m goldmine mansion sold for just £80k
Great Big Lockdown Survey: Tell us what life's like for you by answering THESE questions
Create your own survey at doopoll.co
US news: Many of real life 'Nightcrawler' Weegee's picture would go onto show a long lost New York (Image: HERITAGE AUCTIONS)
The man behind 'Nightcrawler' was known as 'The Famous Weegee' but his real name was