Gary Graver

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Gary Graver
Gary Graver portrait.jpg
BornJuly 20, 1938
DiedNovember 16, 2006(2006-11-16) (aged 68)
Other namesRobert McCallum
EducationGrant High School
OccupationFilm director, cinematographer
April Silva
(m. 1974; div. 1976)

Connie Nelson
(m. 1969; div. 1972)

Andrea Ellestad (m. 1960)

Jillian Kesner-Graver
(m. 1981; his death 2006)

Gary Foss Graver (July 20, 1938 – November 16, 2006)[1] was an American film director, editor, screenwriter, cinematographer. He was a prolific filmmaker, working in various roles on over 300 films,[1] but is best known as Orson Welles' final cinematographer, working over a period of six years on Welles' unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind.

Graver began his career in the late 1960s as a cinematographer and editor of various B-movies, including several films by Roger Corman, before providing additional camerawork on John Cassavetes's A Woman Under the Influence (1974). He continued to serve as the cinematographer of numerous horror films from the late 1970s and through the 1980s, including The Toolbox Murders (1978), Trick or Treats (1982), which he also wrote, edited, and directed; Mortuary (1983), They're Playing with Fire (1984), and Twisted Nightmare (1988).

Under the pseudonym of Robert McCallum Graver was also a prolific director of adult films, working as a cinematographer and director on 135 features.[2]

Early life[edit]

Graver was born July 20, 1938 in Portland, Oregon, to Raleigh and Frances Graver.[3] His father was a native Oregonian, while his mother was born in Washington state.[3] Graver was raised in Portland,[4] where he attended Grant High School.[5] As a teenager, he produced and starred in his own radio show, and built a movie theatre in his parents' basement where he showed his own 16 mm films.[5] He also acted in stage productions for the Portland Civic Theatre.[6]

At age twenty, Graver moved to Hollywood to become an actor, and studied acting with Lee J. Cobb.[6] He was drafted into the U.S. military in the early 1960s and was assigned to the Navy Combat Camera Group, where he was trained as a professional cameraman while touring in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan.[6]


Feature films[edit]

After returning to civilian life, Graver began his career in Los Angeles working on documentaries for a year before starting to work on larger budget features. Graver wrote and directed his first film, The Embracers, in 1966.[7] He would subsequently serve as the cinematographer and editor on the B-films The Mighty Gorga, The Fabulous Bastard from Chicago, and Satan's Sadists (all 1969).[7]

In 1970, Graver made an unannounced inquiry to Orson Welles, saying he wanted to work with the director. Welles told Graver that only one other person had ever called him to say they wanted to work with him—Gregg Toland who, had worked with Welles on Citizen Kane.[8]

"From that day forward, Orson Welles was the central figure in Gary Graver's life: more important than his wife, his children, his bank account, and his health. For the rest of Orson's life (and his own) Graver belonged to the great director." [8]

Soon after, Welles and Graver started work on the unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind, in addition to other projects Welles had in the works including F is for Fake (1973) and Filming Othello (1978).[1]

Graver's work for Welles was unpaid, and during the shooting of one scene in The Other Side of the Wind, Welles used as a prop his 1941 Oscar that he won as the co-writer of Citizen Kane. When shooting was finished, he handed the statuette to Graver saying, "Here, keep this." Graver understood this to be a gift in lieu of payment for his work. Graver held onto the award for several years until he ran into financial trouble in the 1990s, and in 1994 he sold it for $50,000. The purchaser, a company called Bay Holdings, then attempted to sell it at auction through Sotheby's in London. When Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles learned of the intended sale, she successfully sued both Graver and the holding company to stop the sale. She eventually took possession of the statuette before selling it herself.[9]

Besides his work with Welles, Graver also worked for other Hollywood directors including Roger Corman and Fred Olen Ray. The bulk of his output was B-movies since, as he put it, "I knew how to make a movie without much money."[4] While working on The Other Side of the Wind between 1970 and 1976, Graver worked as a cinematographer and editor in various other B-horror films such as Blood Mania (1970), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), and Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973).[7] He also contributed additional camerawork on John Cassavetes's A Woman Under the Influence (1974).[7] In 1977, he served as cinematographer for Ron Howard's Grand Theft Auto, followed by the cult horror film The Toolbox Murders (1978).[7]

In 1982, Graver wrote, directed, edited, and produced the slasher film Trick or Treats,[10] after which he served as cinematographer on the slasher film Mortuary (1983), and the comedy Chattanooga Choo Choo (1984). He directed the thriller film Moon in Scorpio starring Britt Ekland in 1987, followed by a cinematography credit on Twisted Nightmare (1988).[7] The following year, Graver provided additional cinematography on Steven Spielberg's Always (1989), working on the film's Montana unit.[7]

Adult films[edit]

Throughout his career in mainstream cinema, Graver also worked as a writer and director of pornographic films, often credited as Robert McCallum.[2] Graver's work in the adult film industry resulted in more than 135 films including Unthinkable, which won the AVN Award for Best All-Sex Video in 1985. Graver was later inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame for his contributions to the adult film industry.[2]


Graver died on November 16, 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California after a lengthy battle with cancer.[11] His widow, former actress Jillian Kesner died the following year of complications of a staph infection, which she contracted after having been diagnosed with leukemia. She was 58 years old.[12][13] Graver had two sons from previous marriages.[1]

Graver's memoir, Making Movies with Orson Welles, co-written by Andrew J. Rausch, was published posthumously by Scarecrow Press in 2008.[14]

Select filmography[edit]

Year Title Contribution Notes
1966 The Embracers Director/writer
1968 The Kill Director/writer/cinematographer Short film
1969 The Mighty Gorga Cinematographer/editor
1969 The Fabulous Bastard from Chicago Cinematographer/editor
1969 Satan's Sadists Cinematographer/editor
1969 One Million AC/DC Cinematographer Directed by [Ed de Priest]
1970 Horror of the Blood Monsters Cinematographer Uncredited
1970 Blood Mania Cinematographer
1970 The Hard Road Director/cinematographer
1971 Dracula vs. Frankenstein Cinematographer
1971 London Cinematographer Short film written and directed by Orson Welles
1973 Midnight Intruders Director/writer/cinematographer
1973 And When She Was Bad... Director/writer
1973 Bummer Cinematographer
1973 F for Fake Cinematographer Documentary film
Co-credit with François Reichenbach
1973 Invasion of the Bee Girls Cinematographer
1974 A Woman Under the Influence Additional camerawork[7]
1976 Black Heat Cinematographer
1976 Woman in the Rain Cinematographer
1976 Charlie Siringo Cinematographer Television film
1977 Moonshine County Express Cinematographer
1977 Grand Theft Auto Cinematographer
1978 Doctor Dracula Cinematographer
1978 The Toolbox Murders Cinematographer
1978 Sunset Cove Cinematographer
1978 Deathsport Cinematographer
1978 Death Dimension Producer/cinematographer
1978 The One Man Jury Cinematographer
1979 Smokey and the Hotwire Gang Cinematographer
1979 Sunnyside Cinematographer
1979 The Glove Cinematographer
1979 Filming Othello Cinematographer Documentary film
1980 Scout's Honor Cinematographer Television film
1980 The Attic Cinematographer
1981 Texas Lighting Director/writer
1981 Hollywood High Part II Cinematographer
1981 Smokey Bites the Dust Cinematographer
1982 Trick or Treats Director/writer/editor
1982 Eating Raoul Second unit cinematographer[7]
1982 Homework Second unit director[7]
1982 The Sword and the Sorcerer Additional cinematography[7]
1983 Lost Cinematographer
1983 Mortuary Cinematographer
1984 Chattanooga Choo Choo Cinematographer
1984 They're Playing with Fire Cinematographer
1987 Party Camp Director
1987 Moon in Scorpio Director
1988 Twisted Nightmare Cinematographer
1989 Always Additional cinematography (Montana unit)[7]
1991 Ted & Venus Second unit cinematographer[7]
1992 Roots of Evil Director
2018 The Other Side of the Wind Cinematographer Shot between 1970 and 1976


  • Graver, Gary (2008). Making Movies With Orson Welles. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-810-88229-4.


  1. ^ a b c d Associated Press (November 20, 2006). "DP Gary Graver dies at 68; worked for Welles, Corman". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Kernes, Mark (November 27, 2006). "Commentary: Giving Gary Graver His Due". AVN. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (accessed March 12, 2018), Gary F Graver in household of Raleigh F Graver, Tract 30, Portland, Portland City Election Precinct 331, Multnomah, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 37-440, sheet 9A, line 21, family 147, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3392.
  4. ^ a b Nelson, Valerie J. (November 19, 2006). "Gary Graver, 68; maverick cinematographer tried to complete Orson Welles' final film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Biography". Gary Graver Official Site. Archived from the original on March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Bergan, Ronald (December 8, 2006). "Obituary: Gary Graver". The Guardian. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Gary Graver Filmography". American Film Institute Catalog. Archived from the original on March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Karp, Josh (May, 2015) "Orson's Last Stand" Vanity Fair, pages 143–151; 168–171.
  9. ^ Kehr, Dave (July 22, 2003). "Objection Quashes Sale of Welles's 'Kane' Oscar". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Trick or Treats Cast and Crew". AllMovie. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Associated Press (November 21, 2006). "Gary Graver, 68, Orson Welles's Collaborator, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2018. (subscription required)
  12. ^ "Jillian Kesner-Graves obituary". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  13. ^ "WellesNet: Gary Graver". December 8, 2006. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  14. ^ Graver, Gary (2008). Making Movies With Orson Welles. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-810-88229-4.

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