In 1973, freelance photographer Anthony Roberts was walking through a parking lot in Los Angeles, California one sunny afternoon when he heard a woman screaming. Approaching the scene, he found a man beating a woman who was lying on the ground. Unarmed, Roberts began taking pictures of the scene, calling out to the man that his photo was being taken. The assailant, who was allegedly trying to kidnap the woman, yelled that he didn’t care and continued to beat the woman while Roberts remained a helpless onlooker.
The noise of the assault caught the attention of a security guard, who responded to the incident with his weapon drawn. As Roberts continued to snap pictures, sure that the police would arrive at any moment, the man revealed a knife and threatened to cut the woman’s throat. The security guard shot the assailant in the head, killing him and saving the woman’s life. The final picture Roberts took before the man died, just before the security guard took the fatal shot, became known as “Fatal Hollywood Drama” and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974.
“Fatal Hollywood Drama” was the final photo of an entire series that Roberts took documenting the struggle. The series of photos ran in the Los Angeles Times the day after the incident and became national news. The Associated Press nominated the photos for the Pulitzer Prize for spot photography. The series also later was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Roberts continued with a career in journalistic and commercial photography, and he also became an actor.