James Wong Howe

James Wong Howe

Guangdong, China
Death 12 Jul 1976 (aged 76)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Sanctuary Of Tranquility
Memorial ID 5428 · View Source
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Cinematographer. For over 50 years he was one of Hollywood's top cameramen, and one of the few in his profession who was known by name to the general public. Howe won Academy Awards for "The Rose Tattoo" (1955) and "Hud" (1963), out of 10 nominations. His other films include "Peter Pan" (1925), "Mantrap" (1926), "Viva Villa!" (1934), "The Thin Man" (1934), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937), "Algiers" (1938), "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1938), "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" (1940), "Kings Row" (1942), "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), "Air Force" (1943), "Body and Soul" (1947), "The Brave Bulls" (1951), "Come Back Little Sheba" (1953), "Picnic" (1956), "The Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), "The Old Man and the Sea" (1958), "Seconds" (1966), "The Molly Maguires" (1970), and "Funny Lady" (1975). Howe was born Wong Tung Jim in Kwantung, China. In the United States from 1904, he was raised in the Northwest and for a time pursued a career as a professional boxer. He entered films in 1917 as a janitor, slate boy for Cecil B. DeMille, and assistant cameraman. His big break came in 1919 when he figured out a way to make star Mary Miles Minter's pale blue eyes register properly on the insensitive film stock of the time, and he was promoted to director of photography in 1922. Nicknamed "Low Key Howe" for his penchant for low-contrast photography, he was an original and endlessly inventive artist. He used hand-held cameras and deep-focus lensing long before those techniques became fashionable. For the boxing drama "Body and Soul" he put on roller skates and climbed into the ring to shoot the fight scenes, and he strapped cameras to the actors' waists for a different perspective in "The Brave Bulls". His moody style also helped define the look of Warner Bros. pictures of the 1940s. After 1970 failing health forced Howe to turn down a number of plum offers, including an invitation from director Francis Ford Coppola to film "The Godfather". For several years he had a relationship with novelist Sanora Babb, but they were not allowed to marry until California's anti-miscegenation laws were repealed in 1949. They were together when Howe died of cancer at 76.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 15 May 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5428
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Wong Howe (28 Aug 1899–12 Jul 1976), Find a Grave Memorial no. 5428, citing Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .