Peter Beard – a character out of Hemingway but for real


Peter Beard, ‘the last of the adventurers’ and ‘great white hunters’ — a socialite, artist, photographer, naturalist, Lothario, prophet, playboy and fan of recreational drugs has died. He disappeared almost three weeks ago suffering from dementia and the after effects of a stroke and was found dead, where he was most comfortable out in nature near his Long Island home.

He was best known for his death-defying photographs of African wildlife, especially elephants. The New York Times obituary says: “Even by the dashing standards of wildlife photography, his résumé was the stuff of high drama, full of daring, danger, romance and tall tales, many of them actually true. Had Mr. Beard not already existed, he might well have been the result of a collaborative brain wave by Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Paul Bowles.”

Born on 22 January 1938, he was heir to both a railway and a tobacco fortune, but opted out to follow in Karen von Blixen’s footsteps in Kenya. With his matinee-idol good looks he was a relentless womaniser, romantically involved with, amongst many others, Candice Bergen and Lee Radziwill and married briefly to super model Cheryl Tiegs. He didn’t stint himself and partied voraciously until well into old age. His long-suffering third wife separated from him but returned after he nearly died having been gored by an elephant.

He was a charming and sociable Sun Jupiter in Aquarius conjunct Venus in final degree Capricorn, all in an intense opposition to Pluto, which would not only make him passionate but also convinced he could break rules and not be harmed. His Sun and Jupiter were in a rebellious and adventurous square to Uranus in Taurus. His Mars in filmic Pisces was in a courageous but high-risk trine to Pluto, conjunct an accident-prone conjunction with Saturn, and in in a publicity-attracting opposition to Neptune. Those two major oppositions in his chart form a Mystic rectangle – not so much spiritual as tricky to balance. He clearly fired on all cylinders all the time, was addicted to adrenaline and ignored advice.

Often death doesn’t show up in a chart. But when he exited his Solar Arc Uranus was exactly opposition his Sun; his Solar Arc Mercury was conjunct his Saturn; and his Solar Arc Jupiter squared his Venus and Pluto. There’s something fitting about how he ‘chose’ to go.

Giraffe pic: Peter Beard

One thought on “Peter Beard – a character out of Hemingway but for real

  1. It’s interesting how Jupiter transits of some sort do often seem to appear at the time of death. An expansion, a journey, freedom? And my goodness, he looks like one of the Kennedys in that younger portrait photo!

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