#2: 1985

#3: "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" [1980] - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

 

   


  WILLIAM A. FRAKER

 

Born: 29 September 1923, Los Angeles, Calif., USA, as William Ashman Fraker, son of William A. Fraker Jr. [?-1934], who started out at Universal, Pathé and First National before running the stills gallery at Columbia from 1928 to 1934, when he died of pneumonia.

Died: 31 May 2010, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.

Education: Cinema Department [run by Slavko Vorkapich] of the University of Southern California [USC] [graduated in 1950].

Career: His maternal grandmother, father and uncle had all worked as still photographers within the studio system, and Fraker resolved at an early age to be a cameraman. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II. After completing his military service, the G.I. Bill of Rights enabled him to enroll in the cinema department of USC. He planned to write a masters thesis designed to prod the major studios to buy a tv network and produce high-quality films for television, but his interest shifted to cinematography. After graduating and finding himself frozen out of The Camera Guild, he scraped by as an editor at various television production companies and took non-union camera jobs shooting 16mm films, inserts for commercials, stock footage and 'grab shots' for features. It took him years to qualify for membership in the International Photographers Guild [now International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600], and even then he was required to restart his career at the bottom of the crew as a camera loader on the tv-series 'The Lone Ranger' and subsequently spent over seven years on 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet', rising from 2nd assistant to operator during that time. He has often expressed his appreciation for director-star Ozzie Nelson: 'If there's any success I've achieved or will achieve, I attribute the major portion of it to Ozzie.' Once he became an operator, Fraker began his association with fellow USC alum Conrad Hall on such tv-shows as 'Stoney Burke' and 'The Outer Limits'. He made his feature debut as cinematographer on 'Games' and followed quickly with 'The Fox' and 'The President's Analyst', wherein he began to push boundaries via use of faster and wider lenses, restricted lighting sources and techniques like 'flashing' and deliberate overexposure. He would truly prove his mettle in 1967 & 1968 with two very diverse, commercial properties. Shooting almost entirely inside, he helped director Roman Polanski capture the dreamlike, claustrophobic quality of the restrained horror classic 'Rosemary's Baby'. In contrast, Peter Yates' 'Bullitt' exploded off the screen, and its vicious duel between a Mustang Fastback and a Dodge Charger along San Francisco's rolling hills established the benchmark for automobile chase sequences.

Was also active as director [see below] starting in 1969 with the western 'Monte Walsh' [ph by David M. Walsh, his former c.op].

Was a member of the ASC since May 1968; served 3 terms as president [1979-80, 1984 & 1991-92]. Was honorary member of the BSC and the SOC.

His son William Ashman Fraker Jr. [William Fraker IV - born 1960] was his 2nd c.asst, but died tragically in 1992.

Taught at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.

Appeared in the doc's 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991], 'Go West, Young Man!' [2002, Peter Delpeut & Mart Dominicus; ph: Stef Tijdink; 84m], 'Cinematographer Style' [2005, Jon Fauer; ph: J. Fauer, Jeff Laszlo, Brian Heller & David Morgan] & 'Old School, New School' [2009, Steven Fischer].

Awards: NSFC Award [1969] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1970] for 'Bullitt'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1977, shared] for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1977] for 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1978] for 'Heaven Can Wait'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1979] & 'Oscar' AA 'Visual Effects' nom [1979; shared] for '1941'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1984] & BAFTA Film Award nom 'Best Special Visual Effects' [1984, shared] for 'WarGames'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1986] for 'Murphy’s Romance'; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [2000]; Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [2003].


Obituary: 'William A. 'Bill' Fraker, a cinematographer who was nominated for six Academy Awards, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 86 and had cancer.

Fraker, a larger-than-life figure, was one of America's most respected cinematographers, known as much for the enduring images he crafted on classic movies like 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' as for his efforts to mentor young camera operators.

Fraker was part of a group of young cinematographers that included Vilmos Zsigmond, László Kovács and Néstor Almendros who rose through the ranks of the studio system and helped usher in a golden era of filmmaking in the 1970s.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Boyle Heights, Fraker joined the Navy and served in the Pacific during World War II. After attending the USC School of Cinema on the GI Bill, Fraker began work as a photographer's assistant, following in the footsteps of his father, a noted studio photographer during the 1920s. His first project involved a Marilyn Monroe calendar.

He got his start as a camera operator on the popular TV show 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet' and landed his first job as a cinematographer on a feature film in the quirky 1966 drama 'Games'.

Fraker went on to work with some of the biggest names in the business developing a reputation as an affable and calming influence on big-budget Hollywood sets with egos to match.

A consummate perfectionist, Fraker would go to extraordinary lengths to capture the best shot. During the filming of the 1968 Steve McQueen movie 'Bullitt' in San Francisco, he hoisted a camera while strapped on to the front of a Mustang going more than 100 mph to shoot a car chase scene. 'They went so fast his white beard flew up on his face,' said his longtime friend and colleague Floyd Mutrux, the writer, actor and director. 'He couldn't see where he was coming or going, but he got the shot.'

Fraker did not advocate a particular style, however, arguing that the look of the movie should be determined by the film itself. 'I don't agree with a cinematographer putting his stamp on a picture,' he once said.

He was active in the American Society of Cinematographers, serving as the group's president several times. The organization presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He spent the last several years teaching at USC, giving his last class only two weeks ago. 'He was teaching right up until the last second,' Mutrux said. 'He loved the kids, and he loved the school.'

He is survived by his wife, Denise, and stepson Baron.' [From the obituary by Richard Verrier in the Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2010.]


 

 FILMS

1958

Forbid Them Not [Robert L. Kimble] 16mm/b&w; docudrama/67m; + co-prod; took 4 years to complete

1966

Games [Curtis Harrington] ts/c

1967

The Fox [Mark Rydell] c

1967

The President's Analyst [Theodore Flicker] p/c

 

[Center/beard] with dir Roman Polanski [right]

"Rosemary's Baby" - photo ASC

 

1967

Rosemary’s Baby [Roman Polanski] c; 'Roman had come out of making films in Europe, which was considerably different from how Hollywood films were made. One of our first days shooting was a handheld shot walking Mia Farrow down the corridor of the apartment. On a woman, especially a star, you typically don't want to use a wide-angle because it makes her face look bulbous. So we put on a 40mm lens and some diffusion and walked the stand-in up and down. Billy showed Roman, and Roman said, 'No, no, no, Billy, I don’t want those lenses. I want a very wide-angle lens.' Billy said, 'But we're shooting the star here. Why do you want wide-angle?' Roman said, 'Because I want the apartment to be another character in the story. I want it to always be overwhelming Rosemary, to have it even curve, if we can do that, so the walls are enveloping her.' Billy and I looked at each other, and we were both thinking, 'That’s really smart. Why didn't we think of that?' [Camera operator David M. Walsh on the ASC website.]

1968

Bullitt [Peter Yates] c

1968

Paint Your Wagon [Joshua Logan] p70/c; 2uc: Loyal Griggs

1970

Dusty and Sweets McGee [Floyd Mutrux] c; doc + dram seq/95m; addph ('Whisky a Go Go' nightclub scenes): László Kovács, Vilmos Zsigmond (uncred) & James Crabe (uncred); + small part

1973

The Day of the Dolphin [Mike Nichols] p/c; 2uc: David Garfath; uwph: Lamar Boren

1973

Coonskin/Streetfight/Bustin' Out [Ralph Bakshi] c; live action + anim

1973

Aloha, Bobby and Rose [Floyd Mutrux] c

1974

Rancho Deluxe [Frank Perry] c; 2uc: David L. Butler & Roger M. Montgomery

1975

Conversation with Fritz Lang/Fritz Lang Interviewed by William Friedkin [William Friedkin] b&w; interview/50m & 140m; filmed 21 & 24 February

1975

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [Milos Forman] c; addph (= 1st unit for the last 10 days); ph: Haskell Wexler & Bill Butler

1975

Islands in the Stream [Franklin Schaffner] p/c; 2uc; ph: Fred J. Koenekamp

1975

The Killer Inside Me [Burt Kennedy] p/c

1975

Lipstick [Lamont Johnson] c; addph; ph: Bill Butler

1976

Gator [Burt Reynolds] tao35/c; 2uc: George Bouillet

1976

Exorcist II: The Heretic [John Boorman] c; 2uc: David Quaid, Ken & Diane Eddy

1976

Close Encounters of the Third Kind [Steven Spielberg] p/c; ph add USA scenes; ph: Vilmos Zsigmond

1976

Looking for Mr. Goodbar [Richard Brooks] c

1977

The Deer Hunter [Michael Cimino] replaced by Vilmos Zsigmond during filming

 

With Warren Beatty [right] - "Heaven Can Wait"

 

1977

Heaven Can Wait [Warren Beatty & (replaced W. Beatty) Buck Henry] c

1977

American Hot Wax [Floyd Mutrux] c

1978

Old Boyfriends [Joan Tewkesbury] p/c

1978

1941 [Steven Spielberg] p/c; addph: Frank Stanley; 2uc: Donald Morgan & Charles Short

1979

The Hollywood Knights [Floyd Mutrux] c

1979

Inchon [Terence Young] c; ph main title seq; ph: Bruce Surtees

1980

Divine Madness [Michael Ritchie] p/c; concert film/86m; addph: Bobby Byrne; filmed over a 4-day period in February (Pasadena, California)

1981

Sharky's Machine [Burt Reynolds] c

1981

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas [Colin Higgins] p/c; addph: Bobby Byrne & Steven Poster; spec vfx: Albert Whitlock

1982

The Glory Road [Marjoe Gortner] prod halted due to lack of funds

1982

WarGames [John Badham (took over from Martin Brest)] c; miniature ph: Jack Cooperman

1983

Delta Pi/Mugsy's Girls [Kevin Brodie] c

1984

Irreconcilable Differences [Charles Shyer] c; + small part

1984

Protocol [Herbert Ross] c

1985

Murphy's Romance [Martin Ritt] c

 

With Richard Brooks [left] - "Fever Pitch"

 

1985

Fever Pitch [Richard Brooks] c

1985

SpaceCamp [Harry Winer] c; 2uc: Robert Jessup & Jack Cooperman

1986

Burglar/Big Fun on the Run [Hugh Wilson] c; 2uc San Francisco: Roy H. Wagner

1986

Baby Boom [Charles Shyer] c; 2uc: Jack Priestley (East Coast) & David Greene

1988

Chances Are [Emile Ardolino] c; ph Washington: Jack Priestley

1989

An Innocent Man [Peter Yates] c

1989

The Freshman [Andrew Bergman] c

1990

There Goes My Baby/The Last Days of Paradise [Floyd Mutrux] p/c

1991

Memoirs of an Invisible Man [John Carpenter] p/c; sfx superv: Bruce Nicholson

1991

Honeymoon in Vegas [Andrew Bergman] c; uwph: Ron & Valerie Taylor; aph: Ray Cottingham

1993

Tombstone [George P. Cosmatos (replaced Kevin Jarre)] p/c; 2uc: Lenny Hirschfield; + co-assoc prod

1994

Street Fighter [: The Battle for Shadaloo] [: The Ultimate Battle] [Steven E. de Souza] s35/c; 2uc: David E. Diano; optical ph: Robert S. Hill & Carson Kiel; also an interactive CD-ROM

1994

Father of the Bride Part II [Charles Shyer] c; 2uc (March 1995): Bill Coleman

1995

The Island of Dr. Moreau [John Frankenheimer (replaced Richard Stanley)] s35/c; 2uc: Ross Emery

1996

Vegas Vacation/National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation [Stephen Kessler] c

1997

The Broadway Brawler [Lee Grant] after a few weeks shooting, the prod was taken over by dir Dennis Dugan & ph Arthur Albert; prod put on indefinite hold

1998

Town & Country [Peter Chelsom] c; 2uc Sun Valley: Chris Lombardi; 2uc (reshoots in April 2000): Gábor Kövér

1999

Rules of Engagement [William Friedkin] p+tvi/c; cph: Nicola Pecorini & Dariusz Wolski

2000

Waking Up in Reno [Jordan Brady] c; 2uc (+ 2ud): Jonathan Brown

2001

The Hunted [William Friedkin] announced as doph, but replaced by Caleb Deschanel

2009

Section B [Darla Rae] superv ph; ph: Ken Hendricks; announced; pre-production (2012) with ph Germano Saracco

 

 TELEVISION

1965

Daktari [Paul Landres] 89-part series, 1966-69; other ph: Paul Ivano, Fred Mandl, a.o.

1967

Fade-In [Allen Smithee (= Jud Taylor)] tvm

1987

Frank's Place [various] 22-part series, 1987-88; other ph: Marvin Manbush

1990

Checkered Flag/Thunder Race/Against the Odds [John Glen & Michael Levine] pilot/60m; addph: Daryn Okada

1993

Death in Small Doses [Sondra Locke] tvm

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS CAMERA ASSISTANT/OPERATOR

 

As c.op with ph Don Wilder [top] shooting a commercial in 1956

 

1953

Private Secretary/Susie [various; tv-series] c.asst; ph: Robert Pittack, a.o.

1955

[Steve Donovan,] Western Marshal [various; tv-series] c.asst; ph: Robert Pittack & Mack Stengler

1956

The Young Guns [Albert Band] c.asst; ph: Ellsworth Fredericks

1956

The Lone Ranger [39 ep dir by various; tv-series/5th season, 1956-57] 2nd c.asst; ph: William Whitley

1959

[The Adventures of] Ozzie and Harriet [David & Ozzie Nelson; tv-series] c.asst & c.op (for 7 seasons); ph: Frederick Gately, Robert Moreno, William C. Mellor, a.o.

1962

Stoney Burke [various; tv-series] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall

1963

The Outer Limits [31 ep dir by various; tv-series/1st season, 1963-64] c.asst; ph: Conrad L. Hall, John Nickolaus Jr. & Kenneth Peach

1963

The Unknown [Gerd Oswald; tv-pilot] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall; shown as ep #32, 'The Forms of Things Unknown', of tv-series 'The Outer Limits'

1963

Incubus [Leslie Stevens] co-c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall

1963

Stryker/Fanfare for a Death Scene [Leslie Stevens (replaced Walter Grauman during shooting); tv-pilot] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall (ph Monroe Askins shot the scenes dir by W. Grauman)

1964

The Haunted [Joseph Stefano (replaced Robert Stevens); unsold tv-pilot] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall; a longer version was released theatrically outside the USA as 'The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre'

1964

Fargo/Wild Seed [Brian G. Hutton] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall

1964

Father Goose [Ralph Nelson] c.op; ph: Charles Lang

1964

Morituri [Bernhard Wicki] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall

1965

The Professionals [Richard Brooks] c.op; ph: Conrad L. Hall

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS DIRECTOR

1969

Monte Walsh [feature] ph: David M. Walsh

 

 

1970

A Reflection of Fear/Autumn Child/Labyrinth [feature] ph: László Kovács

1980

The Legend of the Lone Ranger [feature] ph: László Kovács

1987

Houston Knights [ep #24 'Cajun Spice'] 30-part tv-series, 1987-88; ph: Roy H. Wagner

1987

Wiseguy [ep #13 'Fascination for the Flame' & #16 'The Merchant of Death'] 75-part (3 unaired) tv-series, 1987-90; 1st season, 1987-88; ph: Frank E. Johnson

1987

J.J. Starbuck [ep #15 'Rag Doll'] 18-part (2 unaired) tv-series, 1987-88; ph: Ron Orieux

1988

Unsub [ep #2 'The Silent Stalker'] 8-part tv-series, 1989; ph: Francis Kenny

1988

B.L. Stryker [ep #1 'The Dancer's Touch'] 12-part tvm-series, 1989-90; 1st season, 1989; ph: Nick McLean Sr.

1989

Wiseguy [ep #50 'How Will They Remember Me?', #52 'Reunion', #55 'Day Seven' & #65 'Sanctuary'] 3rd season, 1989-90; ph: Frank E. Johnson; see 1987

1990

The Flash [ep #13 'Tina, Is That You?'] 22-part tv-series, 1990-91; ph: Francis Kenny

1993

Walker, Texas Ranger [ep #14 'Night of the Gladiator'] 203-part tv-series, 1993-2001; 2nd season, 1993-94; ph: Frank E. Johnson

2010

Inherit the Dust [co-d: Rod Barkley] ph: Richard Crudo; in development; status unknown