Stephen Verona was born in 1940 in Illinois and raised in Brooklyn, New York. While attending the School of Visual Arts (1959-1962), one of his photographs was selected by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
After graduation, Verona became co-creative director of Ogilvy & Mather advertising and met John Lennon while shooting a commercial in England. It was this meeting that inspired Stephen to direct music videos, his first two being for The Beatles. He went on to direct music videos for Barbara Streisand, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Leonard Bernstein, Liza Minnelli, Mick Fleetwood, Natalie Cole, Boy George, Santana and a hundred other world renowned recording artists. People magazine later called him the “grandfather of music video”.
Directing music videos was only the beginning. Verona dove deeper into the world of film and became famed acting teacher and actor Lee Strasberg’s protégé at the Actor’s Studio director’s unit. By the time he was 27, Stephen was nominated for an Academy Award for his live action short film The Rehearsal which he created, produced and directed. He then went on to write, produce and co-direct his first feature film The Lords of Flatbush. This film launched the careers of Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler and Richard Gere. Verona also gave Gladys Knight her first acting role in Pipe Dreams, which led to two Golden Globe nominations. He then came full circle with Lee Strasberg when Lee, Ruth Gordon and Janet Leigh starred in Verona’s powerful motion picture Boardwalk.
All during his filmmaking days, Verona was an active painter and photographer. His work can be found in important collections, galleries and museums throughout the world. In 2008, the Getty acquired his photography for their permanent collection.
In addition to the 100’s of awards he has received over the years, Stephen was part of an exclusive group of artists invited in 2009 for an audience with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel. It was the first time the Pope hosted artists in the Sistine Chapel since the Renaissance. This was a major validation of Verona’s work.
In a review of his gallery exhibition Holy Men – Medicine Men – Mad Men, Vanity Fair magazine wrote “Stephen Verona’s work recalls the greatness of Steichen and Weegee with all the passion of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. A must see!”