By Francesco DeLuca
Oscar-winning cinematographer and documentarian Haskell Wexler, has unfortunatly passed away at the age 93.
The death on Sunday was confirmed with a post on the HaskellWexler.com blog. His son, Jeff, added on Facebook that Wexler died, “peacefully in his sleep.”
“An amazing life has ended but his lifelong commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will live on,” wrote Jeff Wexler.
Haskell Wexler who was born in Chicago, was awarded two Oscars for his cinematography. One was for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966), and another for “Bound for Glory” (1976). He won another Oscar in 1970 for the documentary “Interview With My Lai Veterans,” which Wexler directed with Richard Pearce.
Wexler was responsible for writing, directing, and financing two feature films, the politically charged drama “Medium Cool” (1969) which was selected for preservation in the United National Film Registry in 2003 due to its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance. The other was “Latino” (1985). He also directed “From Wharf Rats to Lords” in 2007, an adaptation of a play about labor leader Harry Bridges and unionization.
Wexler possessed a cool, clean visual style that came from his background as an educational and industrial filmmaker, which led to photographic works such as Joseph Strick’s documentary, “The Savage Eye” (1959). Wexler invested his own money in films promoting causes because he saw them as “an instrument for social change,” he said.
Wexler shot a large number of commercials, and was always concerned about “the morality of products,” he once told Variety. He refused to shoot cigarette ads long before they were banned on U.S. television, even though he was responsible for some of the most famous Marlboro commercials in years prior.
Wexler acted as director of photography for many politically minded documentaries all the way into his later years.
Wexler was honored with a number of lifetime achievement awards, from the Independent Documentary Assn. and the the Society of Operating Cameramen. He was also the first active lenser to be honored by the American Society of Cinematographers.
Wexler earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1996, and became the first cinematographer in 35 years to do so.
In 2005, Wexler’s son Mark directed a documentary, “Tell Them Who You Are,” about the cinematographer. His son Jeff works as a sound mixer.
In addition to his sons, Wexler is survived by third wife Rita Taggart, an actress and cinematographer, and daughter Kathy.
He will be missed.