William Cancellare Sr. of Valley Stream, a veteran travel industry photographer who captured the smiles of celebrities and royalty on leisure trips in ports worldwide, died Sunday following complications from a heart attack.
He was 76.
It was something of a family tradition for the Brooklyn native to become a photographer: His father, Joseph Cancellare, started News Events Photo Service in 1923 and passed the legacy on to his son.
History repeated itself when the younger Cancellare passed the trade down to his son, William Cancellare Jr. of Valley Stream. The firm caters to travel and tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, public relations firms, and both travel trade and consumer magazines.
"He photographed kings and queens and prime ministers," the younger Cancellare said of his father, who suffered a heart attack in March and died two months later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream. "He's been all around the world three or four times."
The Cancellares' work comprises an exhaustive collection of pictures of cultural icons including Frank Sinatra and the Marx Brothers. Many of those luminaries were on a first-name basis with Bill Cancellare, said his son.
William Cancellare was born in Bushwick on June 23, 1936.
He and his young wife, Vita, married in 1959 and settled in Valley Stream a year later. Their first child, Denise, arrived in 1961 and William Cancellare Jr. came along in 1964.
For nearly six decades, Cancellare snapped photos at every major travel conference and event, his son said.
So popular was he, said his son, that Gordon "Butch" Stewart, the owner of the Sandals chain of all-inclusive resorts, sent a bouquet of flowers at word of his death. In fact, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association in 2006 honored Cancellare with a lifetime achievement award.
He worked hard, traveling the world with a camera around his neck, but he loved working with the people he met and photographed, relatives said.
"He was a practical joker," said his son. "He had a large sense of humor. He had a gift of remembering people's names like you wouldn't believe."
Cancellare also had a knack for getting camera-shy people to relax, his son said.
"He had a big smile and a big heart," said his daughter, Denise Cancellare of Valley Stream. "He loved people. He had an infectious smile. And everybody always said to me that he led a wonderful life and if they could come back they'd like to come back as Bill."
In addition to his son and daughter, Cancellare leaves a granddaughter, Deanna, and many cousins, nephews and friends. He also leaves his loyal companion, a cocker spaniel named Bella.
Visitation was held at Lieber Funeral Home, 266 North Central Avenue in Valley Stream Tuesday and will be observed Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
The family requests donations be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Cancellare's memory.