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Virgil Miller

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Virgil Miller
Miller in 1922
Born(1886-12-20)December 20, 1886
Coffeen, Illinois, U.S.
DiedOctober 5, 1974(1974-10-05) (aged 87)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Burial placeOakwood Memorial Park
Myrtle Bower

Virgil Miller (December 20, 1886 – October 5, 1974) was an American cinematographer who was the director of photography for 157 films between 1917 and 1956.


Born in Coffeen, Illinois, Miller's credits include The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Danger - Love at Work (1937), Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938), The Mummy's Curse (1944), Navajo (1952), Crazylegs (1953), and six Charlie Chan films.

Miller published his autobiography, Splinters from Hollywood Tripods, in 1964. Prior to working for Universal Studios and, eventually, most other major studios, Miller was a graduate from and a professor at Kansas State University teaching physics and electrical engineering. In 1913, Miller became the first director and founder of the electrical department of Universal Studios.[1] Best known for being one of the first to use electrical lights to film indoors and at night.[2] In 1915, he filmed on location in San Francisco, California, for the World's Fair; one of the earliest "on location" scenes filmed.[2] He also coordinated very early special effects including filming stampedes, explosions, and shrinking people. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the documentary film Navajo in 1952.[3]

Personal life[edit]

He was first married to Myrtle Bower. Together they had five boys: Joaquin, Wendell, Harlan "Lee", Lauren, and Donald. He and Myrtle divorced and Miller later remarried. He died in North Hollywood, California on October 5, 1974, and was buried at Oakwood Memorial Park.[4]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Miller's Memoirs". American Cinematographer. Vol. 46. 1965. p. 24. Retrieved December 27, 2022 – via Google Books. After teaching electrical engineering at Kansas State University, Miller went to Hollywood in 1913 and established the first electrical department for Universal Studios.
  2. ^ a b Splinters from Hollywood Tripods
  3. ^ "Four From Valley Nominees for 'Oscars' in Photography". Valley Times. March 18, 1953. p. 18. Retrieved December 27, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Miller, Virgil E." Los Angeles Times. October 8, 1974. p. 40. Retrieved December 27, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.

External links[edit]