PORTLAND - On a busy New York City street, with cameras flashing and the red carpet beneath his feet, Michael McDermott, 54, couldn't be farther from his Portland home.

McDermott stars in a new documentary about The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger, set to hit theaters Friday. He is also featured in a book, Salinger , that hit shelves Tuesday written the movie's director, Shane Salerno.

McDermott has quite the illustrious career, publishing his first photograph by age 12. He held Secret Service credentials by the time he was 17, but it was what he captured at age 20 while working for Newsweek, that will cement him in history.

It took some patience to get the photo of Salinger but it proved to be a very rare and historic photograph. I've guarded these photographs for 30 years, McDermott said.

Salinger hit rock star fame in the 1950s with Catcher in the Rye, but just as quickly disappeared, spending almost 50 years in seclusion. No one in the news business had photographed him for a decade and a half, when McDermott took that shot.

In the trailer for the movie, McDermott relives that day.

So it s 1979. I get an assignment from Newsweek magazine to photograph this author. He doesn t like to be photographed but we do know he picks up his mail in Windsor, VT. So I waited, then this jeep pulls up. He goes into the post office quickly and as he came back out, I got it. I got Salinger.

McDermott also took a second picture that day. On page 99 of a new biography called Salinger, the second photo of the author walking back to his car is revealed.

The picture is worth an estimated 15-thousand dollars.

In his spare time, McDermott volunteers for the Portland non-profit Friends of the Children, giving mentors to at risk youth. The print will be auctioned off, with all the proceeds going to the group.

In Michael's words, he calls Friends of the Children, a real life Catcher in the Rye. Really helping children, said Karin Zimmer with the non-profit.

Read or Share this story: