John A. Alonzo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Alonzo, A.S.C.
Born Juan Alonzo
(1934-06-12)June 12, 1934
Dallas, Texas
Died March 13, 2001(2001-03-13) (aged 66)
Brentwood, California, USA
Occupation Cinematographer, Actor, Film director
Years active 1967-2002
Spouse(s)

Suzanne Heltzel

Jan Murray (?-2001) (his death)
Children Cristiana Mary Murray, Angela Argenzia, Gorgiana Alonzo

John Alonzo, A.S.C. (June 12, 1934 in Dallas, Texas – March 13, 2001) was an American cinematographer who pioneered hand held work, lighting techniques and HD development during his career. He will probably be remembered mainly for Chinatown (1974) and Scarface (1983).

Alonzo was first American cinematographer of Mexican-American and Latino heritage to become a member of the Cinematographer’s Union in Los Angeles, as well as the first to be inducted into the A.S.C..[1]

Film career[edit]

Alonzo’s career began as part of the clean-up crew at television station WFAA in Dallas. However, within a short time he had made himself indispensable, not only building sets, hanging lights and moving cameras, but also directing cooking and children’s shows. Eventually he and actor Hank Williamson created a popular comedy duo: Alonzo became the voice and puppeteer of the irreverent “Señor Turtle,” who with Williamson as his sidekick, introduced movies and cartoons. In 1956, the show was picked up by station KHJ in Hollywood, where it lasted only 26 weeks. So Alonzo worked for a time as a still photographer, and as an actor, with appearances in several well-known shows such as Twilight Zone (Season 2 - Episode 12 in Dust as Luis Gallegos, Combat, 77 Sunset Strip and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour."

A seminal moment came during the shooting of The Magnificent Seven, in which Alonzo had a small role, when he met the cinematographer Charles Lang. This inspiring encounter, as well as the chance to briefly collaborate with James Wong Howe a few years later, finally gave Alonzo the impetus to devote his life to cinematography. By the mid-‘60s, he was photographing many documentaries for National Geographic and the David L. Wolper Company, and greatly influencing the innovative “Look” of the New Hollywood that became so powerful in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

His uncomplicated and minimalistic style, combined with his first-hand knowledge of acting, made him one of the most in-demand directors of photography in Hollywood. In addition, he was not only one of the best “hand-held cameramen in Hollywood, but also a pioneer of high-def digital cinematography. In 1993/94 he shot (for NBC) the first HD movie in the history of American television, World War II: When Lions Roared.

John A. Alonzo died in 2001 after a long illness, at home in Brentwood, California. Perhaps his best known student is two-time Oscar winner John Toll, who began his career as Alonzo’s assistant on films like Black Sunday, Norma Rae, Tom Horn and Scarface.

In 2007, director Axel Schill helmed a feature documentary about Alonzo, The Man Who Shot Chinatown—Cameraman John A. Alonzo.

Awards[edit]

The Legend of Jimmy Blue Eyes, 1965 Oscar Nomination for Best Short Film

Chinatown, 1975 Oscar Nomination for Best Camera and 1975 BAFTA Nomination for Best Camera

World War: When Lions Roared, 1994 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for a Mini-Series or a Special

Lansky, 1999 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Cinematograhy for a Miniseries or a Movie

Fail-Safe, 2000 Emmy Award Outstanding Lighting Direction, shared with Kim Killingsworth

Filmography[edit]

Film documentaries[edit]

2007 THE MAN WHO SHOT CHINATOWN – THE LIFE & WORK OF JOHN A.ALONZO, Documentary, Germany/GB/USA 77 min

2003 SCARFACE: ACTING DVD BONUS (with John Alonzo)

2003 SCARFACE: CREATING DVD BONUS (with John Alonzo)

2002 THE 74TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS TV Memorial Tribute

2000 GUNS FOR HIRE – THE MAKING OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, Documentary TV (with John Alonzo)

1998 THE MAKING OF SCARFACE Documentary VIDEO (with John Alonzo)

1992 VISIONS OF LIGHT, Documentary USA/Japan 90 min (with John Alonzo)

External links[edit]