Charles Rosher


Director Of Photography

About

Also Known As
Chuck Rosher, Charles A Rosher, Charles G. Rosher
Birth Place
England, GB
Born
November 17, 1885
Died
January 15, 1974

Biography

Pioneering cinematographer who developed many of the "tricks" of "star" lighting, Rosher began his career in London film laboratories, and as photographer to the Court of St. James, before moving to the US in 1908 and settling in Hollywood in 1911. Rosher enjoyed two exceptionally creative periods during his 40-year career. In the silent era he was responsible for several important techn...

Family & Companions

Lolita Rosher
Wife
Divorced in 1923; mother of Joan Marsh.
Doris Rosher
Wife
Second wife.

Notes

Rosher's nickname for Mary Pickford was 'Old Monkey Face'.

Biography

Pioneering cinematographer who developed many of the "tricks" of "star" lighting, Rosher began his career in London film laboratories, and as photographer to the Court of St. James, before moving to the US in 1908 and settling in Hollywood in 1911. Rosher enjoyed two exceptionally creative periods during his 40-year career. In the silent era he was responsible for several important technical innovations, shot several Mary Pickford vehicles (including "Little Lord Fauntleroy" 1921 and "Sparrows" 1926), and was co-photographer, with Karl Struss, of F.W. Murnau's visually haunting "Sunrise" (1927), for which they shared the first Academy Award for cinematography. In the 1940s and 50s, he again asserted himself as one of the foremost artists in his field with the lush color compositions of features such as "Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), "Show Boat" (1951), and "Kiss Me Kate" (1953). To say Rosher is a pioneer of filmmaking is an understatement. While films were first shot in Hollywood in 1908, Rosher arrived and began working in the town in 1911, two years before DeMille and Lasky shot the first feature film. Beginning in 1916 he was, for 12 years, personal DP for Mary Pickford, lighting her so the audience could not tell she was still playing the sweet young thing while far past the age of ingenue. Rosher compiled a list of many classic films, but his mark as a DP rests not on his mastery of lighting, or being able to reveal the internal thoughts of the actors through shadows. Rather, his fame rests on the many innovations attributed to him. Rosher had a keen understanding of the star power of the Hollywood system, and was the first DP to use stand-ins for actors in order to insure "star" lighting. He also developed reflectors to aid towards the same purpose. Rosher also was able to use dummies in action sequences and light and shoot them so the audience was none the wiser, releasing the actors from dangerous stunts. In the 1921 version of "Little Lord Fauntleroy" starring Pickford, Rosher was able to develop the rudiments of the system which allowed Pickford to kiss herself on screen (through split screen). Some sources also credit Rosher as being the first DP to successfully use artificial light to boost the natural sources for outdoor sequences. Among the many classic films on which Rosher was associated were the original "Pollyanna" (1920), "Tess of the Storm Country" (1922), "What Price Hollywood?" (1932), "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (Freddie Bartholomew; 1936), "Neptune's Daughter" (1949), and "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950). Rosher retired from filmmaking in 1960, departed Hollywood and moved to Jamaica, purchasing the Errol Flynn plantation. A founder of the American Society of Cinematographers, he oft appeared at film festivals and lectured at colleges and film schools. Rosher is the father of cinematographer Charles Rosher Jr., who has worked extensively in TV, and actress Joan Marsh, who co-starred in numerous films of the 30s and 40s. In 1938, Rosher was sentenced to a jail term for failing to pay child support to his first wife for Marsh, a case dating back to the early 30s. Rosher claimed that as although Marsh was under 18, she was earning thousands of dollars as an actress and Rosher failed to see why he should give his ex-wife the child support checks.

Filmography

 

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Jake Lassiter: Justice on the Bayou (1995)
Director Of Photography
The Tenth Month (1979)
Director Of Photography
The Cat Creature (1973)
Director Of Photography
Jupiter's Darling (1955)
Director of Photography
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Director of Photography
Young Bess (1953)
Director of Photography
The Story of Three Loves (1953)
Director of Photographer for "The Jealous Lover" and "Equilibrium"
Scaramouche (1952)
Director of Photography
Show Boat (1951)
Director of Photography
Pagan Love Song (1950)
Director of Photography
East Side, West Side (1950)
Director of Photography
Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Director of Photography
Neptune's Daughter (1949)
Director of Photography
The Red Danube (1949)
Director of Photography
Summer Holiday (1948)
Photography
Words and Music (1948)
Director of Photography
On an Island with You (1948)
Director of Photography
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Director of Photography
Fiesta (1947)
Director of Photography
The Yearling (1947)
Director of Photography
Dark Delusion (1947)
Director of Photography
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
Director of Photography
Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
Director of Photography
Kismet (1944)
Director of Photography
Swing Fever (1944)
Director of Photography
Stand by for Action (1943)
Director of Photography
Assignment in Brittany (1943)
Director of Photography
I Dood It (1943)
Director of Photography
Mokey (1942)
Director of Photography
Pierre of the Plains (1942)
Director of Photography
Four Mothers (1941)
Director of Photography
One Foot in Heaven (1941)
Director of Photography
Million Dollar Baby (1941)
Director of Photography
My Love Came Back (1940)
Photography
A Child Is Born (1940)
Photography
Brother Rat and a Baby (1940)
Photography
Three Cheers for the Irish (1940)
Photography
Hell's Kitchen (1939)
Photography
Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939)
Photography
Off the Record (1939)
Photography
Espionage Agent (1939)
Director of Photography
Hard to Get (1938)
Photography
White Banners (1938)
Photography
Hollywood Hotel (1938)
Photography
The Perfect Specimen (1937)
Photography
The Woman I Love (1937)
Photography
Men Are Not Gods (1937)
Photography
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)
Photography
Small Town Girl (1936)
Photography
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
Photography
After Office Hours (1935)
Photography
The Call of the Wild (1935)
Photography
Outcast Lady (1934)
Photography
What Every Woman Knows (1934)
Photography
Moulin Rouge (1934)
Photography
The Affairs of Cellini (1934)
Photography
Our Betters (1933)
Photography
Flaming Gold (1933)
Photography
The Silver Cord (1933)
Photography
Bed of Roses (1933)
Photography
The Past of Mary Holmes (1933)
Photography
After Tonight (1933)
Photography
Two Against the World (1932)
Photography
What Price Hollywood? (1932)
Photography
Rockabye (1932)
Photography
Laughing Sinners (1931)
Photography
Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
Photography
Husband's Holiday (1931)
Photography
The Beloved Bachelor (1931)
Photography
This Modern Age (1931)
Photography
Silence (1931)
Photography
War Nurse (1930)
Director of Photography
Paid (1930)
Director of Photography
Tempest (1928)
Director of Photography
My Best Girl (1927)
Director of Photography
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Photography
Sparrows (1926)
Director of Photography
Little Annie Rooney (1925)
Director of Photography
Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924)
Director of Photography
Rosita (1923)
Director of Photography
Tiger Rose (1923)
Director of Photography
Tess of the Storm Country (1922)
Director of Photography
Smilin' Through (1922)
Director of Photography
Through the Back Door (1921)
Director of Photography
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921)
Director of Photography
The Love Light (1921)
Director of Photography
Suds (1920)
Camera
Pollyanna (1920)
Camera
The White Circle (1920)
Camera
Dinty (1920)
Camera
The Dub (1919)
Camera
The Hoodlum (1919)
Camera
Heart O' the Hills (1919)
Camera
Daddy-Long-Legs (1919)
Photography
Captain Kidd, Jr. (1919)
Camera
The Honor of His House (1918)
Camera
The Widow's Might (1918)
Camera
Too Many Millions (1918)
Camera
The White Man's Law (1918)
Camera
Johanna Enlists (1918)
Camera
How Could You, Jean? (1918)
Camera
One More American (1918)
Camera
The Secret Game (1917)
Camera
The Primrose Ring (1917)
Camera
At First Sight (1917)
Camera
Hashimura Togo (1917)
Camera
A Mormon Maid (1917)
Camera
On Record (1917)
Camera
Common Ground (1916)
Camera
The Sowers (1916)
Camera
The Heir to the Hoorah (1916)
Camera
The Plow Girl (1916)
Camera
The Clown (1916)
Camera
Anton the Terrible (1916)
Camera
The Blacklist (1916)
Camera
The Voice in the Fog (1915)
Camera
Blackbirds (1915)
Camera
The Mystery of the Poison Pool (1914)
Camera

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

La Route est belle (1930)
Photography

Cinematography (Special)

Elysian Fields (1989)
Director Of Photography

Misc. Crew (Short)

Cavalcade of the Academy Awards (1940)
Other

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

Princess Daisy (1983)
Director Of Photography

Life Events

1908

Immigrated to USA

1911

Began working in Hollywood

1916

Selected by Mary Pickford as her personal cameraman

1919

Was one of the founders of the American Society of Cinematographers

1927

Worked on "Sunrise"; won Academy Award

1936

Was director of photography on Freddie Bartholomew version of "Little Lord Fauntlerory"

1946

Won second Academy Award for work on "The Yearling"

1951

Was cinematographer on color "Show Boat"

1960

Retired from filmmaking

Photo Collections

Kiss Me Kate - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Kiss Me Kate (1953). Look for composer Cole Porter, director George Sidney, and stars Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, and others.

Videos

Movie Clip

On An Island With You (1948) — (Movie Clip) Nightingale (Dance) Smitten Navy movie technical adviser Kingsley (Peter Lawford) gets turned down by the star Roz (Esther Williams, backed by her director, Dick Simmons), slipping into a dance number for her fiancè and co-star (Ricardo Montalban) and the second lead (Cyd Charisse), Xaiver Cugat’s group backing with his own composition, in MGM’s On An Island With You, 1948.
Silver Cord, The (1933) - Let Me Look At You Now Snapping forward as German-born Christina scientist (Irene Dunne) and her architect husband (Joel McCrea) arrive from Heidelberg at his family country home, meeting his brother’s fianceè (Frances Dee) then Robert (Eric Linden), and Laura Hope Crews their mother, in her celebrated Broadway role, in The Silver Cord, 1933.
Silver Cord, The (1933) - Have You Had Many Frances Dee as Hester and Eric Linden as younger-brother and fiancè Robert have stepped forward in the family drama, she having nearly offended his well-heeled mother, causing a more forthright discussion than she expected, in director John Cromwell’s The Silver Cord, 1933, from Jane Murfin’s script based on Sidney Howard’s hit play.
What Every Woman Knows (1934) - I'm An Individual Collectivist! First scene for Helen Hayes, as chronically un-married Maggie, returning to her Scottish home town with brother David (Donald Crisp), met by other brother James (Dudley Digges) with news of another failed romance, all meeting young porter Shand (Brian Aherne), in What Every Woman Knows, 1934, from a J.M. Barrie play.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - Love (Lena Horne) A relatively modest production number, in MGM’s three million dollar musical, based on the premise of deceased impresario Florenz Ziegfeld imagining the show he could stage with MGM talent, Lena Horne with an original tune by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, in Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.
Little Annie Rooney (1925) - Let's Go Down Town From the new 4K restoration with Andy Gladbach's score, the opening of producer Mary Pickford's crowd-pleasing comic-drama Little Annie Rooney, 1925, with some scale, Mary (age 32) brawls with the whole neighborhood, focused on Mickey (Joe Butterworth), William Beaudine directing.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - Love (Lena Horne) A relatively modest production number, in MGM’s three million dollar musical, based on the premise of deceased impresario Florenz Ziegfeld imagining the show he could stage with MGM talent, Lena Horne with an original tune by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, in Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - A Water Ballet There had only been one full-blown Esther Williams swimming feature (Bathing Beauty, 1944) when this came out so it was pretty extravagant at the time, Merrill Pye the uncredited director, an early number in MGM's variety showcase Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.
Swing Fever (1943) - You're So Indifferent Kay Kyser introduces the song, Lena Horne as herself, with You're So Indifferent, by Sammy Fain and Mitchell Parish, edited so that it could be removed by theater owners in the South, as was MGM's regular practice at the time, in Swing Fever, 1943.
After Office Hours (1935) - Where Do You Keep Your Airplane? Angry again with her high society friends, reluctant reporter Sharon (Constance Bennett) has escaped a chic New York riverside restaurant with her old school pal Tommy (Harvey Stephens), who himself is being drawn toward scandal, Robert Z. Leonard directing from Herman J. Mankiewicz’s script, in After Office Hours, 1935, starring Clark Gable.
After Office Hours (1935) - It's A Scroop! Put out because she was fired from her new job as music critic earlier that day, socialite Sharon (Constance Bennett) returns from the theater to find her mother (Billie Burke) being charmed by her editor Branch (Clark Gable), who also was there, and who now wants to hire her back for her society connections, in After Office Hours, 1935.
Sunrise (1927) - Midsummer Peasant Dance Country couple George O'Brien ("The Man") and Janet Gaynor ("The Wife") excel in a dance at a big city carnival in F.W. Murnau's acclaimed silent film Sunrise, 1927.

Trailer

What Every Woman Knows - (Original Trailer) An ambitious wife (Helen Hayes) backs her husband's political career in this adaptation of the James M. Barrie play. with Brian Aherne, directed by Gregory La Cava.
Neptune's Daughter (1949) -- (Original Trailer) A polo player romances a bathing suit designer in MGM's Neptune's Daughter (1949), starring Esther Williams.
Three Cheers For The Irish - (Original Trailer) It's Angus' Irish Rose as a Scots lad and an Irish lass anger their families by marrying in Three Cheers for the Irish (1940).
My Love Came Back -- (Original Trailer) A millionaire helps a pretty lady violinist (Olivia de Havilland) with her career in My Love Came Back (1940).
Hard to Get - (Original Trailer) An unemployed architect falls in love with an heiress in Hard To Get (1938), the musical that introduced the song, "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby."
Yearling, The - (Re-issue Trailer) A Florida boy's pet deer threatens the family farm in The Yearling (1948), starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.
Four Mothers - (Original Trailer) The Four Daughters, then Four Wives face financial problems as motherhood approaches in Four Mothers (1941).
Dark Delusion - (Original Trailer) The last of the Dr. Kildare series, this one minus Dr. Kildare, has a new doctor (James Craig) trying to help a neurotic beauty.
Annie Get Your Gun - (Original Trailer) Betty Hutton stars as Annie Oakley in the film version of Irving Berlin's musical Annie Get Your Gun (1950).
Words And Music - (Original Trailer) Judy Garland, Lena Horne and Perry Como perform the songs of Rodgers and Hart in Words And Music (1948).
Yolanda and the Thief - (Original Trailer) A con man poses as a Latin American heiress's guardian angel in Yolanda and the Thief (1945) starring Fred Astaire.
Ziegfeld Follies - (Original Trailer) Legendary showman Flo Ziegfeld imagines the kind of Follies he could produce with MGM's musical stars in Ziegfeld Follies (1946) starring Judy Garland.

Family

Charles Rosher Jr
Son
Cinematographer. Often works on TV programs ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman").
Joan Marsh
Daughter
Actor. Acted under name of Dorothy Rosher for short period.

Companions

Lolita Rosher
Wife
Divorced in 1923; mother of Joan Marsh.
Doris Rosher
Wife
Second wife.

Bibliography

Notes

Rosher's nickname for Mary Pickford was 'Old Monkey Face'.