Not many people (in the world, let alone the film industry) can boast a UC Berkely degree, a tour in WWII as a marine, and a near 6 decade career. Haskell Wexler has had an almost super-human life. The International Cinematographer’s Guild named him one of the 10 most influential cinematographers of all-time. In 1993 he won a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers. In 1996 he was awarded a star on the Hollywood walk of fame; the first cinematographer in 35 years to receive this honor. His breadth of work includes 2 Academy Award wins (5 nominations) for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and Bound of Glory (1976). Wexler was one of the first cinematographers to use a Stedicam; to stabilize the operator’s movement of the camera over uneven terrain, or at high speeds. In addition to his work with the camera, Wexler is also an avid documentarian, directing films that highlight his political points of view. On February 6th he celebrated his 86th birthday (a fellow Aquarian). Credits include: Something's Gonna Live (documentary) (2009), In the Name of Democracy: America's Conscience, a Soldier's Sacrifice, (documentary) (2008),
The Man on Lincoln's Nose (documentary) (2000), Good Kurds, Bad Kurds: No Friends But the Mountains (documentary) (2000), Mexico (documentary short)
Bound for Glory (director of photography) (1976,) Underground (documentary) (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (director of photography) (1974), The Thomas Crown Affair (director of photography) (1967) In the Heat of the Night (director of photography) (1966), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1965), The Loved One (1965), The Best Man (1963), Hoodlum Priest (1961).
My mother and uncle went to a progressive high school in Los Angeles where Haskell Wexler’s son was also enrolled. On a student trip to Death Valley, the kids were stunned and amazed when, in 100 degree weather, ice-cream (literally) fell from the sky. Haskell Wexler had chartered a helicopter to drop ice-cream over their campsite in little parachutes. He fast became the most popular parent around.
Last year, I went with my family to a friend’s birthday party. Attending the party was none other than Haskell Wexler. My uncle’s eyes widened. He marched right up to him and, straight-faced, thanked him for the ice-cream. Wexler said it made his night. It made my uncle’s night, too.
Funny, how life is.