During a career bursting with signature shots, Ralph Morse delivered two of these to LIFE magazine at the turn of the 1960s. In 1961, he assembled for a lively group portrait every then-NFL starting quarterback. And for the February 1962 issue, there was Morse’s iconic shot of astronaut John Glenn, part of a lengthy chronicling of the Mercury Seven.
This past weekend, at age 97, Morse passed away in Florida. From Mary Alice Miller’s Vanity Fair tribute:
Morse was a portraitist of stars, as well, credited for a particularly tender image of Audrey Hepburn cradling her Oscar for Roman Holiday against her cheek in 1954. His pictures of Jackie Robinson dancing around the bases during the 1955 World Series, and Sugar Ray Robinson jumping rope in 1950, solidified Morse’s status as a noted sports photographer.
Morse photographed human history in the making: New Yorkers crowded around a car radio on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination; Albert Einstein’s chaotic Princeton office – photographed on the day of Einstein’s death in 1955 – caught the quiet brilliance of the physicist and froze it in a single still forever.
LIFE.com editor Ben Cosgrove separately has shared some great memories of Morse, who went off to cover World War II for the publication at the tender age of 24. RIP.