Jay Thompson, a leading theatrical photographer in the Los Angeles area for more than 30 years, died March 14 of respiratory failure at Glendale Adventist Hospital. He was 68.
Thompson’s early photographic work included the stage productions of “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Hair,” “Tommy” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Beginning in the late 1970s, his work for the Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum included such premieres as “Angels in America,” “The Kentucky Cycle” and “Children of a Lesser God.”
Thompson, known for his keen understanding of the theatrical medium, shot more than 250 Taper productions on the mainstage and also numerous shows for the Ahmanson Theatre including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
Born and reared in East Orange, N.J., he served in the army as a radio announcer in Panama during the 1950s. Later, while working as a publicist at Universal Studios, he concluded he could do better photo work than the photogs he was hiring.
He was also known for celebrity portraits, including those of Bette Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucille Ball. In addition, Thompson was an active member of the Hollywood Revitalization Committee from 1974-1978.
Services will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Music Center Annex, Rehearsal Room A, 601 W. Temple St.