Haskell Wexler, cinematographer on classics of the 1960s and 1970s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "In the Heat of the Night," "Faces" (uncredited), "The Conversation" (uncredited), "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," "Bound for Glory," "Days of Heaven," and "Coming Home," among others, died in his sleep this morning in Santa Monica, Calif., according to a Facebook post by his son, Jeff, and an announcement on his personal blog. He was 93.
The two-time Oscar winner—for "Woolf" (1966), shot in black and white, and "Bound for Glory" (1976), in color—also directed 12 features of his own, including a slew of stellar documentaries that reflected his progressive politics and 1969’s fictional portrait of a TV reporter embroiled in the violence that erupts around the 1968 Democratic National Convention, "Medium Cool"—which remains, along with "Network" and "Broadcast News," one of the finest films ever made about American television. He received three additional nominations for Best Cinematography from the Academy, for "Cuckoo’s Nest" (1975), John Sayles’ "Matewan" (1987), and Ron Shelton’s "Blaze" (1989).
The tireless Wexler, who shot for such luminaries as Hal Ashby, John Cassavetes, Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Milos Forman, and Terrence Malick, was working right up until the end: he served as director of photography on the TV movie adaptation of Ian Ruskin’s one-man play "To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine," currently in post-production. He will be sorely missed.
Read Keyframe’s extensive obituary here, Roger Ebert’s 46-year-old interview with Wexler here, and a moving remembrance by his niece, the actress Daryl Hannah, here. Tributes on Twitter have been pouring in, and we’ve collected a few below:
Sad to learn that Haskell Wexler has died. Simply one of the all time great cinematographers and a man of stirring political conscience.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) December 27, 2015
If Haskell Wexler had just made Medium Cool, he’d be remembered forever. Then there’s Cuckoo’s Nest, Bound for Glory etc. What a career. RIP
— Robert Levin (@Rlevin85) December 27, 2015
— Carrie Rickey (@CarrieRickey) December 27, 2015
Haskell Wexler was one of the most important people in cinema for the last half century. He did and touched and shot and influenced so much.
— Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) December 27, 2015
Remembering dear friend and legend #HaskellWexler who has passed. He shot my film The Rich Mans Wife. Gentleman. Artist. Crusader. Mensch.
— Amy Holden Jones (@aholdenj) December 27, 2015
RIP Haskell Wexler – Medium Cool remains one of the most inspiring films for me. Fantastic cinema through all that you did.
— Ted Hope (@TedHope) December 27, 2015
“It makes me feel more powerful, knowing that when I have a camera in my hand… that piece of history is going to be alive." — Haskell Wexler
— Sam Adams (@SamuelAAdams) December 27, 2015
All hail Haskell Wexler. Dir. of essential MEDIUM COOL, d.p. of VIRGINIA WOOLF, CUCKOO’S NEST, MATEWAN & more. A life of vision & integrity.
— Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) December 27, 2015
My grandfather, Haskell Wexler, a great artist and human being, died today. He was one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever known.
— Strangeloop (@strangelooptv) December 27, 2015
Celebrating Haskell Wexler — a vital force in cinema and in life.
— Cameron Crowe (@CameronCrowe) December 27, 2015