Elwood B. “Woody” Bredell Sr.

Photo added by Cheryl Bredell

Elwood B. “Woody” Bredell Sr.

Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, USA
Death 26 Feb 1969 (aged 66)
Newport Beach, Orange County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Murmuring Trees - Lot 3821 - Space 3
Memorial ID 80802269 · View Source
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Elwood Bailey Bredell, a.k.a. "Woody", was an American cinematographer, camera man, still photographer, and child actor, who perfected his craft in the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was employed with Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros, and others, and is included among the top 100 on the International Internet Encyclopedia of Great Cinematographers. He filmed and photographed some of the most famous actors and actresses of his time, such as Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, Clark Cable, Carol Lombard, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Errol Flynn, and Deanna Durbin, who was also his sister-in-law for a few years. Ample information on his career and accomplishments can be found on the Internet, where Elwood is particularly admired for his work in The Killers, and other Film Noir movies.

As concerns his biography - the family of Elwood Bredell would like to point out that Elwood was not born August 6, 1884 in London, UK nor did he die there on May 22, 1976. If Elwood had been born in 1884, he would have been around age 33 in 1917, far too old to be cast as "boy" in the silent movie Up and Down. Elwood was born December 24, 1902 in Indianapolis, Indiana and took a particular delight in being a Christmas Eve baby. His birth name was Jesse B. Bredell Jr., as he was named after his father Jesse B. Bredell Sr. His mother was Mary Palmer Nields, who was also known by her family as Aunt May and Mamie. Mary and Jesse Bredell went their separate ways in January 1903 and Elwood always maintained that he never knew his father.

Mary Nields came from a family of craftsmen and performers, and was on the stage at an early age. She has been described as vivacious and flamboyant and apparently passed on her love of the Arts to Elwood. Mary moved to California and married silent screen actor Vaughn "Val" Paul on March 3, 1914. Not much is known about the early silent film careers of Val and Elwood, but it appears that Val also contributed much to Elwood's Hollywood upbringing. They traveled to Hawaii for the 1916 movie It Happened in Honolulu, where Elwood said he was taught how to swim from a Hawaiian Chieftain.

Elwood's career behind the camera began in the studio mail room and he worked his way up from there. About this time he started going by the name Elwood Bailey Bredell instead of Jesse Elwood Bredell. The 1920 census gives his occupation as laboratory-motion pictures. Elwood married Gertrude Grace Stone on June 18, 1923 at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, California. Two children were born to them, Jacqueline and Elwood Jr. Elwood then became "Papa Woody" and photographed his family in the dramatic Bredell style. Much remains to be discovered about Elwood and his still work achievements. He made the cover of the November issue of International Photographer Hollywood in 1929, and photographed stills for Paramount's The Texan, which was released in 1930. He also did still photography for The Crusades, 1935 directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The 1930 census gives his occupation as photographer-motion pictures.

The main body of Elwood's work in the mid-thirties and fifties is well documented elsewhere. So also, is the marriage of his half-brother Vaughn Paul Jr. to Deanna Durbin, though it may not be well known that Elwood was Vaughn's best man at this event. He was 14 years older than Vaughn Jr., but the brother's were close. Elwood enjoyed Hollywood social life, but he also invested in real estate and liked to fish from his cabin cruiser which was docked behind his Newport Beach residence. In later years, Elwood became more withdrawn, with the unfortunate result that his biography is still very much an on-going process. But one thing is certain: He lived most of his life in and around Los Angeles, California, and was an American citizen. As to his death, his family was eye witness to his untimely passing on Feb 26, 1969, and his burial at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. He was 66, not 91, much as we would have wished.

Cheryl Bredell - granddaughter

Family Members


  • Created by: Cheryl Bredell
  • Added: 21 Nov 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 80802269
  • Cheryl Bredell
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elwood B. “Woody” Bredell Sr. (24 Dec 1902–26 Feb 1969), Find a Grave Memorial no. 80802269, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Cheryl Bredell (contributor 47660230) .