Celebrated Cinematographer Haskell Wexler Dies
“It is with great sadness that I have to report that my father, Haskell Wexler, has died,” his son, Oscar-nominated sound man Jeff Wexler, wrote on his website. “Pop died peacefully in his sleep, Sunday, December 27th, 2015. Accepting the Academy Award in 1967, Pop said: ‘I hope we can use our art for peace and for love.’ An amazing life has ended but his lifelong commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will carry on.” Wexler was known for his work on films like Jane Fonda’s anti-war classic Coming Home and Sidney Poitier’s race drama In the Heat of the Night. He scored his first Oscar for Elizabeth Taylor’s 1966 movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and struck gold again 10 years later for director Hal Ashby’s 1976 Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory. In addition, he landed nominations for his contributions to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Matewan, and Huey Long biopic Blaze, and worked as director of photography on films including Gore Vidal’s The Best Man and Mulholland Falls. Wexler was also recognized for his documentary work on the Emmy-winning Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang and 1970’s Interviews with My Lai Veterans, for which he won an Academy Award. He also wrote, produced and directed 1969’s Medium Cool, a groundbreaking cinema verité-style film about the violence between Chicago police and Vietnam War protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which continues to influence generations of filmmakers today. Wexler’s talent even earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1996, making him the first cinematographer to receive the honor in 35 years. He is survived by his third wife, actress Rita Taggart, who he wed in 1989, and his other children Kathy and Mark.