Man finds late uncle's historical photo stash of stars, politicians and landmarks

Twenty years have passed since a photographer with a Michigan connection passed away. His nephew found a treasure trove of old photos that are a piece of history.

"When I got all this stuff, he had one particular set of negatives that he said was the first time he went with his brand new camera he got in middle school in 1937 and took pictures of the Detroit Zoo," said Lance Rosol.

Rosol's uncle Stan passed away in 2002. But it wasn't until a few months ago that the family unpacked boxes at his home when they stumbled on thousands of negatives, and hundreds of photos.
The images were of President John F. Kennedy, President Gerald Ford, Joe Louis, and Sammy Davis Jr. all photographed by Lance's uncle Stan. And there are so many more iconic pictures from the 1930s and beyond. 
The family decided the photos, slides, and negatives had to go to Lance.  He's a photographer himself.

"They told me they were photography magazines and probably some pictures and things," he said. "But when they saw it, they knew since I've always been into photography, and they knew my relationship with my uncle, they felt it would be perfect for me to get these photos, so they gave them all to me."

And if these pictures look familiar, you'll know how long parts of Dearborn have dealt with water logged roadways after rain. This was from the 1950's. Stan took these pictures then.

Rosol's uncle passed away in California. The boxes now have a new home in Dearborn where Lance lives.

When he started sorting through the pictures, he found images of Bing Crosby with another icon, Rosemary Clooney.

"They were doing an ad for Squirt and so my uncle was probably contracting to come and do the photo, and for some reason he really liked that photo," Rosol said.

Other photos are of Hugh Hefner, actors and politicians -even comedian Johnny Carson and William Clay Ford.

There are photos of actresses, including Julie Newmar who played "Cat Woman" in Batman.

"She's in California, she's 87 years old, so I wrote her and I asked if she would be so kind as to tell me where they were taken," he said. "And she wrote me back in a couple of hours and said 'Wow those are great photos, can you send me a copy?'"

It turns out they were taken on Broadway in the mid-1950s.

And then there's places that meant so much to this region, including the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn.  

Uncle Stan had a way with his camera, he could make anyone look amazing.  Uncle Stan took pictures of family including Rosol's mom.

"Another picture he took of her in the living room, in the living room of this house, I grew up in his house, she looks like a movie star," he said. "And he had the ability to make everyone look like a movie star. So when I saw these pictures of my mom that I've never seen, of course it was emotional, and, it made me feel that I am so blessed that this came into my life out of the blue."

These iconic images amount to pictorial gold.  So he knew, to put these out there had to be done the right way. He's signing with Getty Images to make sure they're shared correctly online for years.

"When I started posting and then I saw what people did with my photos, they would take them, they would steal them, and put them up on other stock photo sites for sale, I was like this is like the wild west out there," he said.

Rosol inherited the photos to pass along to the world, and he nabbed the talent of his uncle's eye to continue his legacy today.

"It's my passion," he said. "I take pictures because I like the photos, if no one else likes them that's fine."

Look for the images from Stan Rosol on Getty in the next month.