Cinematographer. One of the most inventive and original artists ever to work in Hollywood. More than any cameraman of his time, Toland left his personal imprint on the films he photographed. His experiments with lighting and optics, especially his pioneering use of deep-focus lensing, set industry standards that are still in use today. He won an Academy Award for "Wuthering Heights" (1939) but has achieved legendary status as the man who shot Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" (1941). Gregg Wesley Toland was born in Charleston, Illinois. He entered films at 15 as an office boy at Fox and became an assistant cameraman the following year, learning his craft from such masters as Arthur Edeson and George Barnes. Barnes was so impressed with his abilities that he shared co-photographer credit with him on several films. In 1929 he was promoted to director of photography and signed a non-exclusive contract with independent producer Samuel Goldwyn, who gave him considerable creative freedom and permitted him to pursue projects at other studios. Toland's fascination with deep-focus photography developed largely through his collaboration with director William Wyler, beginning with "These Three" (1936), "Dead End" (1937), and "Wuthering Heights"; this technique allowed for more complex compositions and more fluid interaction between the performers within the frame. His visual style made a great leap forward with two John Ford classics, "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and "The Long Voyage Home" (1940), and exploded with flamboyant virtuosity in "Citizen Kane". Toland discreetly advised the neophyte Welles throughout the production and their partnership resulted in some of the most stunning images captured on film. "The Little Foxes" (1941) and "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), both directed by Wyler, show Toland's art reaching perfection. During World War II, as a lieutenant in the US Navy, he developed lightweight cameras for combat photography and co-directed a documentary with Ford, "December 7th" (1943). Toland's career was tragically cut short by a heart attack; he was only 44. Film producers were slow to adapt his innovations but the use of deep-focus became an immediate staple of early television. His other films include "Bulldog Drummond" (1929), "Tugboat Annie" (1933), "Les Miserables" (1935), "Intermezzo" (1939), "The Westerner" (1940), "Ball of Fire" (1941), "The Outlaw" (1943), "Song of the South" (1946), and "The Bishop's Wife" (1947).
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Frank Anderson Toland