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Shirley Clarke

Shirley Clarke

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Radio Unnameable ... For nearly 50 years, he has been heard at midnight on New York City... more info $20.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Shirley Brimberg Died: September 23, 1997
Born: October 2, 1919 Cause of Death: complications from a stroke
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, documentarian, editor, photographer, choreographer, dancer, actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A former dancer, choreographer and head of the National Dance Association, Shirley Clarke began making short films in 1953 with the seven-minute "Dance in the Sun." She then went on to make a series of short films about dance including "In Paris Parks" (1954) and "Bullfight" (1955). By the time she made "A Moment in Love" (1957), Clarke had begun to explore movement as a means of communicating story. "Skyscraper" (1959) traced the construction of a building, used color and black-and-white shots and was made in collaboration with Willard Van Dyke and Irving Jacoby. The film, which Clarke characterized as "a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper" won several festival prizes and earned a 1959 Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Subject. earned an Oscar nomination. After developing a searing cinema verite style in her experimental shorts and documentaries, she graduated to features with "The Connection" (1960), based on Jack Gelber's play, about heroin junkies being filmed by a documentarian and "Portrait of Jason" (1967), an interview with a black male hustler. Clarke helmed the Oscar-winning documentary short "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World" (1963), which had been...

A former dancer, choreographer and head of the National Dance Association, Shirley Clarke began making short films in 1953 with the seven-minute "Dance in the Sun." She then went on to make a series of short films about dance including "In Paris Parks" (1954) and "Bullfight" (1955). By the time she made "A Moment in Love" (1957), Clarke had begun to explore movement as a means of communicating story. "Skyscraper" (1959) traced the construction of a building, used color and black-and-white shots and was made in collaboration with Willard Van Dyke and Irving Jacoby. The film, which Clarke characterized as "a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper" won several festival prizes and earned a 1959 Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Subject. earned an Oscar nomination.

After developing a searing cinema verite style in her experimental shorts and documentaries, she graduated to features with "The Connection" (1960), based on Jack Gelber's play, about heroin junkies being filmed by a documentarian and "Portrait of Jason" (1967), an interview with a black male hustler. Clarke helmed the Oscar-winning documentary short "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World" (1963), which had been commissioned by President John F Kennedy. While alienating her from Hollywood, Clarke's provocative subject matter made her a major influence on American underground film culture. (With Jonas Mekas she co-founded New York's Filmmaker's Cooperative in 1962.) In Agnes Varda's "Lion's Love" (1969), she appropriately played 'Shirley Clarke', a character trying to interest a producer in a film project. While teaching at UCLA from 1975 to 1983, Clarke was completing what would be her last film, "Ornette: Made in America" (1985). Begun in 1968 and utilizing film and video, it was a documentary portrait of jazz musician Ornette Coleman and his son Denardo. Clarke died in 1997 after suffering a stroke.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Portrait of Jason (1967) Director
3.
  The Cool World (1964) Director
4.
  The Connection (1962) Director
5.
  Skyscraper, The (1959) Director
6.
  Bridges-Go-Round (1959) Director
7.
  Tongues (1982) Director
8.
  Savage/Love (1981)

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Lost, Lost, Lost (1975) (Reel 4)
4.
 Lions Love (1969)
5.
 Galaxie (1966)
6.
 Butterfly (1967)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1942:
First work as choreographer performed at 92nd Street YMCAin New York City
1946:
Became first president of the National Dance Association
1953:
Filmmaking debut, "Dance in the Sun" (7 mins)
1960:
Feature directing debut, "The Connection"
1962:
Co-founded the "Filmmakers Cooperative" in New York, with Jonas Mekas
1963:
Directed the Oscar-winning documentary, "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World"
1968:
Began filming a documentary on jazz musician Ornette Coleman
1969:
Played herself in Agnes Varda's "Lions Love"
1969:
Began working exclusively with videotape
:
Formed T.P. Videospace Troupe, headquartered at Manhattan's Chelsea Hotel
1973:
T.P. Videospace Troupe toured USA offering workshops on working with video
1975:
Moved to Los Angeles; became instructor of experimental TV at UCLA (named full professor 1980)
:
Taught at New York University
1980:
Was the subject of a retrospective at the UCLA Film Archives
1985:
Released "Ornette: Made in America", which she had begun in 1968
:
Moved to the Boston area
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Education

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill , North Carolina -
Stephens College: Columbia , Missouri -
Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore , Maryland -
Bennington School of Dance: Bennington , Vermont -
Ethical Culture School: New York , New York -
New Lincoln School: New York , New York -

Notes

"Personally, I am an out-of-the-system person and always have been, politically, emotionally ... It was a matter of pride not to be from Hollywood." --Shirley Clarke in 1978

"It was years before it dawned on me that if I had been a man I would have been Stanley Kubrick. He made two early films, then went to Hollywood and had his way, but I was some kind of threat. I didn't make myself acceptable and I had no intention of making their films." --Clarke in 1978

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Bert Clarke. Lithographer, book designer, publisher. Married in 1943; divorced.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Samuel Brimberg.
sister:
Elaine Dundy. Novelist, dramatist. Younger, survived her.
sister:
Betty Lorwin. Younger, survived her.
daughter:
Wendy Clarke. Video artist. Born c. 1948; survived her.
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