Sunday, December 27, 2015


One of the giants in cinematography ... and no slouch at political activism, either ... has gone.

... Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, the socially conscious two-time Academy Award winner who lensed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and many other masterpieces, has died. He was 93.

Wexler died in his sleep Sunday at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, his son, Oscar-nominated sound man Jeff Wexler, told The Hollywood Reporter.

On his website, Jeff posted:

"It is with great sadness that I have to report that my father, Haskell Wexler, has died. Pop died peacefully in his sleep, Sunday, December 27th, 2015. Accepting the Academy Award in 1967, Pop said: 'I hope we can use our art for peace and for love.' An amazing life has ended but his lifelong commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will carry on."

One of the most influential American cinematographers of all time, Wexler nabbed his first Oscar for making Elizabeth Taylor look haggard in black and white for director Mike Nichols in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). He garnered a second trophy 10 years later for his work on Bound for Glory. ...

Haskell always fought for the down-trodden, always fought against injustice wherever he found it. He was called a Lefty in his time, but the reality was much more complicated than that. He had a deeply held sense of right and wrong, and an inbred suspicion of entrenched power.

He was a long-time board member of the Cinematographer's Guild, Local 600 IATSE, but even inside the House of Labor, he was a renegade. He backed insurgents fighting against incumbents who, in his opinion, didn't battle hard enough for the people they represented. (I watched him stand up at IATSE national conventions and get into shouting matches with IA Presidents would sometimes cut off his microphone.)

So here's to you, Mr. Wexler, and to your deep-rooted belief in the the people who make the country run, and in their right to be heard ... and respected.


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