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 Chester Louis “Chet” Shuler

Chester Louis “Chet” Shuler

Birth
Russell County, Kentucky, USA
Death 10 Mar 1995 (aged 82)
San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, Specifically: Ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean, California
Memorial ID 32973128 · View Source
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Chet was born in Russell County, Kentucky on August 18, 1912 to Leo L. and Katherine (Meehan) Schunicht. His 28 year old father died when he was three years old. Chet's mother left him with her mother to raise. After his grandmother died when he was almost 12, Chet was raised by his maternal aunt, Eva Shuler. There were other children in the family and Chet began using his new uncle's last name while he was in school.
As a second-year apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan, Chet had planned on a career as a tool and die maker. A vacation to Hollywood to visit a friend; however, changed all that. The friend, Ernest Thom, worked at MGM and got Shuler a job; he was making $24 a week. Ernest introduced him to Joan Franklin, his sister-in-law. She and Chet married a year later.
Chet began his career with MGM in 1934 working in the studio's construction department building scenes and props for movies but he never really had intended to work in Hollywood at all. In an interview in November 1984, he was featured in the San Juan Capistrano paper as Citizen of the Day. "I liked it so much out here that I never left after that vacation," he said.
He took a leave from MGM to enlist in the Navy during World War 2. He was stationed in Panama and found ways to regularly play golf there. His love for the game of golf remained with him for the rest of his life. After the war, he returned to his job at the studio.
It was not unusual for Chet to critique out loud the shows he watched on television. "Sometimes I just can't understand why some of the shots are taken the way they are these days." After working more than 40 years as a grip, camera boom operator and grip department head for MGM Studios, Chet was a near expert on the filming of movies and television shows.
During his years with MGM, he worked on countless numbers of Hollywood classics, including Les Girls, with Gene Kelly and Mitzi Gaynor; The Wings of Eagles, with John Wayne; Gigi, with Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan; Many Rivers to Cross, with Robert Taylor and Billy Rose's Jumbo, with Doris Day, Jimmy Durante, and Martha Raye. He also worked "on nearly all" the shows on the One Step Beyond television series in the early 1960's and several episodes of the legendary Twilight Zone series.
And as might be expected, Chet never had a boring day of work in all his 41 years with MGM. "We never did the same thing twice," he said. "Every day was different and every project was different." But the work was hard. Working more than 10 hours a day on most films and spending as much as two full days rehearsing the shots and camera movements for a single scene. However, Chet never tired of the work. Not when director Vincente Minnelli took him through each scene of Gigi yelling where cameras should be positioned and what shots to take. And certainly not when other actors and actresses put in their two-cents worth. "Ninety-nine percent of all the actors and actresses I worked with were friendly," Chet remarked. "The old-timers were especially good. They knew all the problems that could occur and they all helped out. Gene Kelly was one of the best. He always tried to help so we could get the best shots."
But the musicals also were the toughest, according to Shuler. On Gigi, Jean Coyne (one of the picture's choreographers) sat with Chet on the boom to help with shots during the dance numbers. Chet said two days were spent rehearsing just so the cameramen could get their shots straight. He also remarked that the work he did is never mentioned in any of the films' credits. Cameramen and grips worked in near anonymity in his day. "Today it's not unusual for the credits to include the name of the key grip operator," said Chet. "It wasn't that way when I was working." One of his main complaints about current movies is that the credits always seemed to go by too fast. "They're so fast sometimes you can't read them," he said. "I still know a lot of people working on movies and I look for their names. When I see one I know it gets to me sometimes."
Chet retired in 1972 and moved from Marina del Rey to San Juan Capistrano. An avid golfer, he was a member of the San Clemente Men's Golf Club and served on its board of directors. He and Joan celebrated 60 years together. Chet was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 and passed away the following year. Joan's niece, LuVeta Simons recalled that Chet's ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.


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  • Created by: Margie von Marenholtz
  • Added: 16 Jan 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32973128
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Chester Louis “Chet” Shuler (18 Aug 1912–10 Mar 1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32973128, ; Maintained by Margie von Marenholtz (contributor 47028174) Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, who reports a Ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean, California.