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Willard Van Dyke

Willard Van Dyke

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Also Known As: Died: January 23, 1986
Born: December 5, 1906 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Denver, Colorado, USA Profession: filmmaker, photographer, cameraman, curator, X-ray technician, bank clerk, insurance salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Eminent American documentarian who began his career as a still photographer, co-founding the renowned f.64 group (which included Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham) in 1932 and earning acclaim for his portraits of migrant workers. Van Dyke entered film as the co-photographer of Pare Lorentz's celebrated history of the Mississippi Basin, "The River" (1937). He then set up American Documentary Films Inc. with Ralph Steiner and together they directed, photographed and produced another monumental documentary, "The City" (1939), with an outline by Lorentz and an affecting score by Aaron Copland. Van Dyke's other notable works include "Valley Town" (1940), with music by Marc Blitzstein, a series of films made for the Office of War Information during WWII (such as "Steel Town" 1943), "San Francisco" (1945)--the official film on the founding of the United Nations--and "Skyscraper" (1958), described by co-director Shirley Clarke as "a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper." Van Dyke served as director of the Museum of Modern Art's film department from 1965 to 1973.

Eminent American documentarian who began his career as a still photographer, co-founding the renowned f.64 group (which included Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham) in 1932 and earning acclaim for his portraits of migrant workers. Van Dyke entered film as the co-photographer of Pare Lorentz's celebrated history of the Mississippi Basin, "The River" (1937). He then set up American Documentary Films Inc. with Ralph Steiner and together they directed, photographed and produced another monumental documentary, "The City" (1939), with an outline by Lorentz and an affecting score by Aaron Copland. Van Dyke's other notable works include "Valley Town" (1940), with music by Marc Blitzstein, a series of films made for the Office of War Information during WWII (such as "Steel Town" 1943), "San Francisco" (1945)--the official film on the founding of the United Nations--and "Skyscraper" (1958), described by co-director Shirley Clarke as "a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper." Van Dyke served as director of the Museum of Modern Art's film department from 1965 to 1973.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Skyscraper, The (1959) Director
2.
  The City (1939) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1932:
Co-founded f.64 group of photographers in San Francisco
1934:
Served as photographer on WPA Art Project in San Francisco
1935:
Worked as photographer for "Harper's Bazaar"
1936:
Cameraman on Pare Lorentz's documentary "The River"
1939:
Directorial debut, "The City" (with Ralph Steiner; also co-producer and co-photographer)
:
Served as producer, Office of War Information's Motion Picture Bureau
:
Filmed sponsored documentaries for the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and for TV series ("Omnibus" and "The 20th Century")
:
Served as director of film department, Museum of Modern Art
:
Founded film program at SUNY, Purchase; professor of film there
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Education

University of California at Berkeley: Berkeley , California -

Notes

"The effects of the Depression were very disturbing to me, and I felt anxious to promote change. I was young and impatient, and felt that the documentary film would more effectively communicate issues to more people than would still photography." --Willard Van Dyke, quoted in his January 24, 1986 obituary in The New York Times.

He was named Laureate Artist in Residence at Harvard shortly before his death.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Gray Barnett. Married on January 2, 1938; divorced in 1950.
wife:
Margaret Barbara Murray Milikin. Second marriage; married on June 17, 1950.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Alison Van Dyke. Mother, Mary Barnett.
son:
Murray Van Dyke. Mother, Margaret Milikin.
son:
Cornelius Van Dyke. Mother, Margaret Milikin.

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