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Ted McCord

Ted McCord

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Also Known As: Thamer Mccord, T D Mccord, T. D. Mccord Died: January 19, 1976
Born: August 21, 1900 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Sullivan County, Indiana, USA Profession: director of photography, camera assistant, film laboratory worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A 50-year veteran cinematographer whose work in Hollywood ultimately spanned many genres and was particularly notable for its use of outdoor locations. McCord began in film in 1917 at age 19 as an assistant to cinematographer James Van Trees. By the early 1920s he was on his own, photographing a number of comedies for First National starring pert flapper Colleen Moore, including "Flirting with Love" (1924) and "Irene" (1926), and occasional Moore dramas like "So Big" (1924). McCord also began working with the showman-like cowboy star Ken Maynard on such Westerns as "Canyon of Adventures" (1928). His picturesque rendering of the scenery of 1849 California won critical praise, and Maynard put McCord under contract. When Maynard moved to Universal in 1929, he took his cinematographer with him, setting a pattern for much of McCord's work over the next decade. McCord shot over 20 of Maynard's vehicles until 1934, bringing clean compositions and brisk camerawork to a highly enjoyable series of low-budget Westerns. As the 30s wore on, McCord began to work with other stars and studios as well, as on the modest but fun adventure "Carnival Boat" (1932) with William Boyd and Ginger Rogers. By 1936, though, he...

A 50-year veteran cinematographer whose work in Hollywood ultimately spanned many genres and was particularly notable for its use of outdoor locations. McCord began in film in 1917 at age 19 as an assistant to cinematographer James Van Trees. By the early 1920s he was on his own, photographing a number of comedies for First National starring pert flapper Colleen Moore, including "Flirting with Love" (1924) and "Irene" (1926), and occasional Moore dramas like "So Big" (1924). McCord also began working with the showman-like cowboy star Ken Maynard on such Westerns as "Canyon of Adventures" (1928). His picturesque rendering of the scenery of 1849 California won critical praise, and Maynard put McCord under contract. When Maynard moved to Universal in 1929, he took his cinematographer with him, setting a pattern for much of McCord's work over the next decade.

McCord shot over 20 of Maynard's vehicles until 1934, bringing clean compositions and brisk camerawork to a highly enjoyable series of low-budget Westerns. As the 30s wore on, McCord began to work with other stars and studios as well, as on the modest but fun adventure "Carnival Boat" (1932) with William Boyd and Ginger Rogers. By 1936, though, he had settled at Warner Brothers, where, apart from a few years, he would spend the next two decades. McCord continued lensing inexpensive "B" films until the WWII years. While he continued shooting Westerns like "Prairie Thunder" (1937), he had proven himself in other genres by this point. Thus his reliable flair for hard-hitting visuals enhanced such punchy actioners as "Secret Service of the Air" (1938), the especially fine "Bullets for O'Hara" (1941), and even the atypical "Father Is a Prince" (1940).

McCord finally moved up to "A" budget films with the bracing "Action in the North Atlantic" (1943), starring Humphrey Bogart, but his career was interrupted for WWII service. Working for the military's photographic division, McCord rose to the rank of captain, and was one of the first Americans to enter Berlin, photographing scenes in Hitler's chancellery.

McCord's best known and most prestigious films awaited him after his war service, and he stayed with Warner Bros. to bring flair to a wide variety of films. Touching, powerful melodramas like "Deep Valley" (1947), "Johnny Belinda" (1948, which won him the first of three Oscar nominations), and "East of Eden" (1955) used his skill with the outdoors well, and his economical visual narration enhanced more claustrophobic or set-bound films like "The Breaking Point" (1950) and "The Spirit of St. Louis" (1957). Westerns, from "Cattle Town" (1952) to "The Hanging Tree" (1959), never left McCord's repertory, though, and he continued breaking in new directors and making old ones look good into the 60s. His penultimate credit helped end his distinguished career on a high note, when his breathtaking mountain vistas were one of the greatest assets of the sugary family favorite, "The Sound of Music" (1965).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Family moved from Indiana out to California in the early years of the Twentieth Century, while McCord was still young
1915:
Quit school at age 17 (date approximate)
:
Got a job working in a film laboratory
1917:
Began working at age 19 at the Hobart Bosworth Studio as an assistant to photographer James Van Trees
1921:
First credit as cinematographer, sharing credit with James Van Trees on "Sacred and Profane Love"
1924:
First solo credit as cinematographer, "For Sale", which also began a tenure at First National Studios lasting until 1929
1924:
Shot the first of six films he made starring Colleen Moore, "Flirting with Love"
1928:
Was put under contract by cowboy star Ken Maynard
:
Worked with Maynard on a series of Westerns for First National Studios
1929:
Went with Maynard to Universal Studios, where they continued their collaboration until 1934, though McCord increasingly made more films with other stars and sometimes at other studios
:
Worked almost exclusively for Warner Bros.
1943:
Last film before WWII service, "Action in the North Atlantic", also one of McCord's first "A" budget pictures
:
Served in the US Army Air Force photographic division; achieved the rank of captain (date approximate0
1945:
Was one of the first Americans to enter Berlin at the end of WWII; photographed the interior of Adolph Hitler's chancellory
1947:
First feature film after WWII service, "That Way with Women"
1948:
Received first of three Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography for his work on the black-and-white "Johnny Belinda", which was also nominated for Best Picture
1962:
Rare credit on non-US film, "Smog", an Italian film directed by Franco Rosi
1965:
Received last of three Oscar nominations, and his first for work in color, for "The Sound of Music"
1966:
Last film, "A Fine Madness"
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Notes

Not to be confused with clarinettist and saxophone player Ted McCord, born Theodore Jobetus McCord in Birmingham AL on May 17, 1907, twin brother of fellow jazz musician Castor McCord.

"Working with Ted McCord was such an inspirational thing for me, because here was a man who started when the industry started. He started when he was nineteen, and had been a cameraman for many many years. I saw that this man was not set in his ways; he was as open as any young man that I've ever known in my life--ready to experiment, ready to change his ideas." --Cinematographer Conrad Hall (Quoted in Leonard Maltin, "Behind the Camera: The Cinematographer's Art", 1971)

"I had help on ("East of Eden") from a wonderful cameraman, Ted McCord, a terrific, mean old man. People didn't like to work with him. He was pigheaded, bullheaded. But boy, when you talked to him, he WORKED. He really tried to give you his equivalent for what you wanted. He had a lot of guts." --Elia Kazan (Quoted in "Kazan on Kazan" by Michel Ciment, 1973)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ethel McCord.

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