29.9.1923 – 31.5.2010
WILLIAM FRAKER ASC Honorary BSC
The winner of five Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, William A Fraker ASC Hon BSC has died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 86, sadly a few days before he was due to be present at the opening of the new ASC Club house where the lounge is to be named in his honour.
His popularity and the respect in which he was held were not confined to the United States and in 1979 he was made an honorary member of the BSC following his first Oscar nominations for Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977) directed by Richard Brooks and Heaven Can Wait (1978) directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry and his earlier shared nomination with Haskell Wexler ASC for a BAFTA for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) directed by Milos Forman. This was followed in the early eighties by three further Oscar nominations for 1941 (1979) directed by Steven Spielberg, WarGames (1983) directed by John Badham and Murphy’s Romance (1985) directed by Martin Ritt.
He served as President of the ASC in 1979, 1984 and 1991 and also found time to direct three feature films: Monte Walsh (1970) photographed by David Walsh; A Reflection of Fear (1972) photographed by László Kovács and The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) also photographed by László Kovács as well as several TV films and series. He returned to the University from where he had graduated with his friend Conrad Hall to become Professor of the USC School of Cinema. A student wrote” What an honour it was to be taught by this man. His heart and personality are just as impressive as his filmography.”
His other notable films include Rosemary’s Baby (968) directed by Roman Polanski and Paint Your Wagon (1969) directed by Joshua Logan, the same year in which he was awarded the American Film Critics Award for his cinematography on Bullitt (1968) directed by Peter Yates.
In 2000 he was presented with the ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an honour he was also to receive at Camerimage in 2003 where his masterclasses became as popular as the man was himself.
Billy Williams BSC, a friend for over thirty years described “Bill” Fraker as a man “always willing to share his experience with others, open, friendly, of genial disposition, a gentleman.”
Bill Fraker’s father had been a stills photographer at Pathe and Columbia Pictures and he hailed from a long line of still photographers in the studio system stretching back to his maternal grandmother. His son William A Fraker Jnr. also a cinematographer died tragically in 1992.