This doesn’t have anything to do with Grace Kingsley, but it wasn’t needed by the publication I wrote it for and I wanted to put it online.
Note: Many thanks to Chris Mankofsky for digitizing the Static Club’s minutes.
Before there was an American Society of Cinematograhers, there was the Static Club. Founded on February 13, 1913, their object was “for the benefit and furtherance of the camera-men of the motion picture industry” according to the minutes from the first meeting. The club’s name came from a common problem cameramen were having with static electricity fogging their film, but Kodak soon developed an anti-static backing that solved it. However, the cameramen found plenty of other things to talk about, and the club lasted for five years.
That first meeting was short. Four men turned up, so they became the four officers. Leonard M. Smith was elected president, Fred Granville vice-president, William Alder secretary, and Harry Maguire treasurer. They came up with the club’s object, chose Friday night as their temporary meeting night, tabled action on by-laws for the next meeting and adjourned promptly.
The group grew rapidly after that. By January 1914 they had 49 members. They moved their regular meeting night to Tuesday and met in in the Wilson Building at First and Spring Streets in downtown Los Angeles.
One of the Club’s ongoing concerns was the struggle to get the cameraman’s name in film credits, right after the actors. The Washington Post reported in January 1914 “an interesting fight is about to be waged in Los Angeles. The cameramen…are determined that they should receive equal publicity on the screens with the players and authors. The proposition, it is said, was discussed at a recent meeting of the Static Club.” Moving Picture World mentioned that they were still working on it in July 1915.
On January 16, 1914 they held their first dance, to raise money for a clubhouse. It was an impressive event. Open to everyone, over two thousand people (studio employees and civilians) paid one dollar to dance at Rutherford’s Hall in downtown L.A. and see stars Mary Pickford and J. Warren Kerrigan lead the grand march. Attendees also received a souvenir booklet which featured ads bought by the Static Club members, production companies, actors and local businesses. According to the Los Angeles Examiner, “the dance hall was beautifully decorated, presenting the effect of a great snow storm.”
With the proceeds, they did rent and furnish a “cozy bungalow retreat” that overlooked Echo Park at 1839 Santa Cruz Avenue. Moving Picture World said it had a living room with a huge fireplace, comfortable lounging chairs and a player piano, a billiard and pool room, a developing room and a library/reading room with all the latest trade journals, daily papers and periodicals. The best way to get there was on the Edendale electric car to the Santa Cruz stop, then walk one block up the hill, according to the club’s newspaper.
They held a house warming party on August 29, 1914 and over fifty people attended, including directors Lois Weber, Philips Smalley, Allan Dwan and Hobart Bosworth. Motion Picture News reported “during the evening the crank-turners and focus finders talked shop. There were explanations made of several different kinds of intricate exposure work, and a general social time followed. In the billiard room there were several match games, a musical program was given, and later lunch was served. The housewarming was a complete success.”
In 1915 they became even more ambitious and founded a weekly newspaper, Static Flashes. “Captain Jack” Poland, a writer with fifteen years experience, was hired to write and edit it. The first issue, published on January 23rd was four pages long and it included a list of the 68 members, flattering short articles about actors Francis Ford’s and Tom Mix’s current productions, newsy notes about what directors, actors, and cameramen were up to, and a complete report on their second annual ball held three days earlier. The dance was again at Rutherford’s and it was another “signal success for the cinematographers,” according to Poland. He continued: “glistening jewels of the ladies and the magnificent costumes lent an air of royalty, with handsome men hovering in the background added zest to the occasion.” Dancing soon commenced to the sixteen-piece orchestra. At 12:30 camera lights went on, some club members went to their cameras and one thousand guests led by Margarita Fischer and Robert Leonard performed the Grand March. The party continued after that until the wee hours.
Static Flashes was successful enough that on April 8, 1915 the Club called a special meeting to discuss enlarging it to 8 pages. They did expand it, but unfortunately, it didn’t last: Static Flashes’ last issue was August 21, 1915. The Club’s minutes for their August 24th meeting say that attacks on the character and integrity of Poland were made, and he resigned. Club president Edward Ullman stood up for him, but it didn’t help. However, that wasn’t Poland’s last job with cameramen: in 1920 he was appointed the first editor of American Cinematographer.
Static Flashes was succeeded by the Static Club Bulletin, edited by Al Cawood. It was written on an all-volunteer basis, so it only lasted eight issues. But President Ullman did write an essay about the club in the first issue, saying:
A great many people do not know why the Static Club was organized. I will endeavor in a few short words to explain. First we recognized the absolute importance of the cameraman in the manufacturing of motion pictures and the necessity of having good, reliable, sober, and trustworthy men, men who will be an honor to the profession and a credit to the people with whom he works. To accomplish these ends it was thought advisable to organize a social club for ourselves and to establish a code of morals whereby these results could be attained. Hence the birth of the Static Club.
Also, the Club’s motto had changed from “Efficiency” to “Loyalty and Efficiency.” The meeting minutes don’t mention why.
In 1915 a committee chaired by Cawood was also working on adding to the Club’s by-laws, and the new ones were approved on May 4, 1915. Under the new rules, to qualify for membership a cinematographer needed at least one year’s experience with a regular producing company, and he needed to be endorsed by two club members. After the Membership Committee investigated him, the whole club would vote. Three negative votes would reject an applicant, but he could re-apply in three months. The initiation fee was ten dollars and regular dues were twenty-four dollars a year, payable in advance. A member could be expelled from the club for non-payment of dues, incompetency, intemperance, or dishonesty and disloyalty to the organization. The Club was led by a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and an eleven-member Board of Directors. In addition to the membership group they had two other standing committees: the House Committee which looked after the club rooms and entertainments and the Auditing Committee which checked the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s accounts. Also, whenever a member was ill or in distress, a Sick Committee could be organized to visit him.
A few months later in October, they adopted a constitution drafted by Cawood. It read:
We the Camera-men of’ Southern California in order to form a social body to better our welfare, and to become more proficient in the Art and Study of Cinematography, do hereby establish this organization.
The name of this organization shall be the Static Club of America.
The purposes for which this club is established are:
- To maintain and uphold the honor and dignity of’ the Art of’ Cinematography.
- To cultivate the usefulness and to exert every influence to improve the moral, social, and intellectual standing of all persons engaged in the Art of’ Cinematography.
- To cultivate social intercourse, and to create Good Fellowship among its members.
- To create loyalty to our employers and to uphold a code of honor among ourselves.
- To elevate the Art and raise the standard of Cinematography to the highest possible degree.
The Club went on with meetings, dances, receptions at the clubhouse and monthly banquets to which they invited other film industry men and newspaper reporters. They also held lectures on topics such as anastigmatic lenses, autochrome photography, color separation and filming in the Belgian Congo. Occasionally they went as a group to an event; in 1915 they attended a performance of the Western Burlesquers and in 1916 they went to the fights in Vernon. When Selig cameraman Burton Allen died following an operation for appendicitis in September 1915, nearly all of his fellow Static Club members attended his funeral.
Meanwhile, in New York City, cameramen had formed the Cinema Camera Club. Also primarily a social club, they first met on April 18, 1913, just a few weeks after the Static Club began. On August 24, 1915 the Static Club voted to send a member to the CCC to discuss an exchange of clubhouse privileges. The CCC agreed, and they traded membership lists so the clubs knew who was a member in good standing.
The Statics’ third annual ball was held on January 28, 1916, again at Rutherfords. Ziegfeld star Anna Held and director/producer Thomas Ince lead the Grand March of directors, actors, cameramen and their dates; “a line of gorgeous color and finery” according to Moving Picture World. They mentioned that the dance was even better than the earlier ones.
Also in late January the club moved to a new, larger house one block west at 1917 Santa Cruz Street. In addition to gaining extra space, they had been having trouble with the neighbors near 1839 Santa Cruz, who had complained about the club’s noise. The new rent was $25.00 per month, and the move cost $9.75.
The club continued with their regular business in their new home. Third president Charles Rosher so admired a Moving Picture World article written by Thanhouser cameraman Carl Gregory, he read it out entirely during the March 28, 1916 meeting. Entitled “Better Salaries for Cameramen,” Gregory departed from his regular column on technical aspects of motion picture photography to deliver a scolding to cameramen, blaming them for their low salaries. He felt that if only cameramen cooperated with their directors more intelligently, read scenarios more carefully, dressed more neatly, and didn’t brag or lie about their past work, then “there is no reason why the photographer shouldn’t meet his employer on the same terms of equity as the director and the star except the photographer himself.” Influenced by Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of self-reliance, Gregory told cameramen that “there is no limit to a man’s earnings, but his own limitations.” After the article was read, the club agreed with Rosher’s high esteem of the article and they had it framed and put up on the clubhouse wall. Additionally, they wrote a letter to Gregory and made him an honorary life member.
The club held their 4th annual ball at the Rose Room at the Alexanderia Hotel on March 31, 1917. There was a 16-piece orchestra furnishing the music for 24 dance numbers, but no Grand March. New president Al Cawood and vice president Edward Ullman lead the reception committee, greeting the guests as they arrived. Moving Picture World praised the elaborate buffet supper served in the balcony, and Motion Picture News called the ball a “profound success.” However, the ticket sales barely covered the expenses and it was their last annual ball.
In late 1917, other signs that the club was becoming less prosperous began to appear in the minutes: they decided not to complete fitting out a darkroom because it was too expensive, and they didn’t renew their subscription to Wid’s Film Daily for the same reason. In early 1918 they moved from their clubhouse to less expensive rooms in downtown Los Angeles at 321 West Third Street.
In addition, some members were becoming dissatisfied with the organization. L. Guy Wilky, a Static and one of the A.S.C. founders, later said “it was just a social club without much interest in education.” That faction wanted a new and better club.
This dissatisfaction might have been the cause of a fight that on its surface was over the club’s name. The meeting minutes are frustratingly short of details, because they voted later to strike all discussion of it from their records, but the disagreement did cause some people to leave. It began on March 20, 1917 when William Alder proposed re-naming it the Cinematographic Society of America* “for the good of the club” (no other explanation was given, but maybe he thought it sounded more dignified). They decided to discuss it more after all of the members had been notified. One week later they formed a new education committee with Alder, Ullman and Wilky, to arrange for more club lectures. At the very next meeting, vice-president Ullman tried to resign from the Board of Directors, but the club unanimously rejected his resignation. The week after that, Ullman tried to have the name change resolution tabled indefinitely, but they didn’t vote on his motion. On April 26th, Alder raised the subject again, and Ullman’s resignation from the Board of Directors was accepted (he stayed active in the club). Alder replaced him on the Board. However, at the next meeting instead of voting on the name change, Board member Eddie Littell made the motion to strike the whole subject from the records, and his motion carried. Later that night at the Board meeting, Littell was elected vice-president. A few months later Alder was replaced on the Board when he quit going to meetings after the club didn’t take up his suggestion in August to reopen the name change discussion. President Al Cawood left at the same time, and Littell became president.
Eventually on October 11th they did start the discussion again, and after “considerable debate” they changed the group’s name to the Cinema Camera Club of California. They planned to have a closer affiliation with the New York club. They consulted a lawyer, notified the members, and at the December 6, 1917 meeting Littell read out the court order changing the name. In addition, they dropped all of the members who hadn’t paid their dues.
Unfortunately, the new affiliation and name didn’t stem the dissolution of the club. The final meeting minutes that have been preserved are dated February 28, 1918, but the club wasn’t entirely dead. They were still on Camera magazine’s list of clubs. They still held elections and Charles Rosher was re-elected president in March. Moving Picture World reported that they held a dinner and an entertainment in their new rooms featuring singer ‘Smiling’ Billy Mason on April 18, and they held a house-warming there on May 1. Variety said that “several hundred were present and a bully time was had by all” at the latter. Members also photographed a Liberty Bond drive on October 11th.
Some of the reasons that the club fell apart were external. In 1918, there was less work for cameramen in Los Angeles. At the January 31, 1918 meeting Edward Ullman suggested they write a letter to the New York club, warning them that there was very little work on the West Coast. The situation became worse when the second wave of the flu pandemic closed all of the studios down for a month starting in mid-October. In addition, theaters around the country were closed to try to stop the spread of the flu, which bankrupted smaller studios. Furthermore, many members were fighting in World War One. The first American troops landed in France in June 1917, and the draft continued to call up young men throughout 1918.
In late 1918, a new member arrived to sort out the club. Phil Rosen, the former president of the New York branch of the Cinema Camera Club, had moved to Los Angeles. According to early Static Club member H. Lyman Broening’s 1921 history of the A.S.C.’s founding, Rosen arrived in time to attend the last few meetings of the Los Angeles CCC, but he found that “the membership was badly mixed up and plans to continue were apparently useless.” So with the help of Charles Rosher he started a committee to re-organize the club. They met on Saturday, December 21, 1918 at William Foster’s house and the American Society of Cinematographers was born.
That the Static Club fell apart isn’t remarkable: film history is full of social clubs that stayed together only for a few years (for instance, by 1924 the New York branch of the Cinema Camera Club had disappeared). What’s remarkable is that the A.S.C. has lasted for a hundred years, and looks set to last many more.
Leonard M. Smith, first president pro-tem
Leonard Minuse Smith was not only the Static Club’s first president; he also led the A.S.C. from 1943 to 1947. He was born on April 16, 1894 in Brooklyn, New York, so he was only 18 years old when he became the Static Club’s president. After his time in office he stayed active in the club, serving on education, publicity and dance committees. He worked for several different studios, including Universal, Essanay and the Balboa Amusement Producing Company. He spilt his time between Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and New York; on the day of the draft for World War One (June 5, 1917) he was a cameraman for Vitagraph Films in Brooklyn. He did get drafted, so he was serving in Europe when the ASC was founded. He was a cinematographer in the Signal Corps, first at the front and later as part of crew who filmed the signing of the Versailles Treaty.
When he was demobilized in 1919, he went back to making fiction films. He worked on many comedy shorts with Larry Semon and Lloyd Hamilton. In 1923 he married Gertrude Gauthier, a stenographer and another long-time Brooklyn resident. They didn’t have children.
He was hired by MGM in 1928, and he stayed there for the rest of his career. In the 1930’s he shot mostly comedies, including Buster Keaton’s talkies and the Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races. In 1941 he got the opportunity to shoot a drama, Billy the Kid, in Technicolor and he got an Oscar nomination for it. After that, Technicolor trusted him and he was one of the first DPs to make a film without one of their specialists. He went on to receive three more Academy Award nominations for Lassie Come Home, National Velvet and The Yearling, for which he shared the Oscar with Charles Rosher and Arthur Arling in 1947.
He became the president of the ASC in 1943. One of his first accomplishments as was to finish the negotiations to turn over the responsibility for collective bargaining from the ASC to IATSE, so the ASC could revert to its original function as a social and educational society. He served until 1947. He died later that year on October 20, 1947 following a heart attack at home.
Fred L. Granville, first vice-president pro-tem
Fred Leroy Granville was the only founding officer of Static Club to be an ASC founding member, too. In fact, the ASC’s second organizational meeting was at his house on December 22, 1918. He was born on May 8, 1886 in Warrnambool, Victoria on the southwest coast of Australia to an American father and British mother. The family moved to the United States in 1903. He married Mary Jane (May) Paynter in 1907 and they had two children: George in 1908 and Roy in 1911. By 1910 Fred had became a photographer in Los Angeles. He became a moving-picture cameraman and worked for Navajo Film, Foreman and French, Fox and Universal. The first issue of Static Flashes called him “a globe trotter of varied and extensive experience” in part because in 1914 had gone to the Canadian Arctic to shoot a documentary about the rescue of the Stefansson expedition. Not long after he helped start the ASC, he moved to England and became a director. His work included films starring his second wife, Peggy Hyland. He died on November 14, 1932 in London of kidney disease.
William Alder, first secretary pro-tem
Being a movie cameraman was only a small part of William Fisher Alder’s life. He was born in Oil City, Pennsylvania on July 28, 1886 to Charles Alder, an art dealer, and Clara White Alder. After high school in Chicago, William Alder spent three seasons touring in vaudeville as a magician. Then he settled down in Cleveland where he helped install theater equipment. By 1910 he’d become a portrait photographer in Rock Island, Illinois before he moved to Los Angeles and switched to moving pictures. He worked for several production companies, including Sterling, Fred Balshofer, Kennedy, Quality Pictures and Triangle-Ince. He often presented lectures to the Static Club on topics like scientific film lights and autochrome photography.
By 1918 he had quit film and was working as a consulting mechanical engineer at the Mason Opera House in downtown Los Angeles. In 1919 he picked up his camera again and went on a 13-month expedition with Edward Laemmle to Japan, China, Singapore, Java, Australia, Siam, and the South Sea Islands where he shot nonfiction films for Universal, including a feature, Shipwrecked Among Cannibals (1920). Alder wrote two nonfiction books based on his travels and a novel, The Lagoon of Desire, which he adapted and filmed in Tahiti as Fire Bride (1922). Then he became an inventor, patenting devices that increased heat transfer and measured sound, as well as a camera attachment that simulated 3-D in moving pictures with the use of revolving mirrors. Gregg Toland shot tests using it in 1935 and he wrote in the New York Times that the images were “startlingly clear,” but the method didn’t take off. Alder retired in Aptos, California (near Santa Cruz) and wrote a book of art criticism, Peril on Parnassus (1954) (he disliked Modernism and Picasso intensely). He died on January 9, 1956 in Ventura, California. He had two wives; Kate Leonard Major, a singer with Ellery’s Band, married him in 1908 and travelled with him to Asia in 1923 and 1924. She died in 1925. Jenness Abbey Diebold married him in 1927 and survived him for many years, dying in 1988. He had no children.
Harry Maguire, first treasurer pro-tem
Just like Len Smith, Harry Maguire had a good reason not to be at the founding of the ASC: he was serving in the Army during the First World War. Harry Henry Maguire was born December 31, 1888 in New York City, but he and his sister Sadie were raised by their uncle and aunt, Thomas and Annie Pritchard, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His cousin Walter was the same age as he was, and both of them worked as cameramen for the nearby Nestor Company. The company and the cousins moved to Los Angeles in 1911. Walter Pritchard wasn’t at the first Static Club meeting, but he soon joined. When Nestor merged with Universal Films in 1912, Maguire went with them and shot comedies like The Belle and the Bell Hop (1916) and He Became a Regular Fellow (1916). He got drafted in 1918, enlisting in the Army on May 1st, and served as a private in the 31st infantry until January 14, 1920. After the Army he took a break from films and worked for the Union Construction Company in San Francisco. By 1925 he was back in Los Angeles and back to being a cameraman for smaller production companies. His work included two Westerns starring Yakima Canutt and several comedy shorts for Edward Ferguson. In 1942 he was working for the Works Progress Administration in Los Angeles, where he died on April 27, 1945 following a coronary occlusion. He never married.
“Capt. Jack” Poland, Static Flashes editor
Hired in January 1915 to write and edit Static Flashes for the club, Clarence Beauregard “Captain Jack” Poland was born on December 14, 1872 in New Orleans, Louisiana. When he was hired, he had fifteen years experience as a professional writer and publicist. He wrote with that “hail fellow well met” style that Strunk and White warned everybody against, but he preserved a snapshot of Hollywood in 1915 that would have been otherwise lost. After Static Flashes ended, Poland freelanced for other film publications like Motography, and he was the first editor of American Cinematographer, which began publication in November 1920. He left in mid-1921 and went to work as the editor and publisher of Pacific Coast Elk, a magazine for the Elks Club. He stayed there until the late 1920’s, then he became a freelance writer. He was married twice, to Cary B. Johnson and Louise Brodin. He had two sons with his first wife, Clarence and Joseph. He died on January 31, 1956 in Ontario, California at the Patton State Asylum for the Insane and Inebriated (the cause of death was left off of his death certificate).
H. Lyman Broening, first historian
Henry Lyman Broening was the A.S.C.’s first historian, with his 1921 American Cinematographer article entitled “How It All Happened: A Brief Review of the Beginnings of the American Society of Cinematographers.” He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on June 30, 1892 to Henry Jacob and C. Jean Lyman Broening. His father was a lawyer and later a judge and his uncle, William Broening, was the mayor of Baltimore twice.
Broening began his career as a song slide illustrator, then he moved into the film business in 1909, finding a job in the developing department of the Champion Film Company of Fort Lee, New Jersey. His first job there was winding film onto frames for drying, then he got promoted to the perforating room (at that time, film wasn’t perforated until after it was developed). He got his first experience with cameras at his next job, shooting titles for the IMP Company. There he also helped out by shooting inserts, and his career as a cameraman was launched.
In 1913 he moved to Los Angeles and became the chief cameraman for Monopol Films and joined the Static Club. After four features, he moved to Famous Players, where he stayed until 1918, shooting films in both Los Angeles and New York for them. He made over 40 features with stars like Mary Pickford and Marguerite Clarke. He became a freelance cameraman, working with directors like Marshall Neilan, Mal St. Clair, and Phil Rosen after Rosen moved to the director’s chair.
He was an active ASC member and served as the secretary in 1920 and on the board of directors 1921-1927. He was also part of the cameraman’s union, IATSE local 659, serving as their second vice president in 1929, recording secretary in 1933, and secretary in 1935.
His last feature credits were in 1927, but he continued to find smaller jobs; he was part of the crew who shot the land rush in Cimarron (1930) and he made advertising shorts for the Stewart-Warner Corporation in 1933. He later blamed his career downturn on being blacklisted by producers because he was so active in the union.
He married actress Amelia Daly in 1917 and they had two sons, Henry Lyman Jr. (1918) and William (1923).
He and his wife broke up in 1939, and he moved to Roscoe (now Sun Valley) where he became the manager of what the 1940 Census called a “health club.” It was Fraternity Elysia, a nudist camp that at the time was illegal. He and the camp’s owner, Lura Galssey, were arrested in 1946 and they ultimately became some of the few Americans to serve time in jail for nudism (he was sentenced to 90 days and she to 180 days). The camp closed after their convictions and they moved to a ranch in Hesperia, California, getting married in 1968.
In 1983 historians Marc Wanamaker and James Forsher found him at that ranch, still doing his daily chores. They interviewed him for American Cinematographer, and the ASC held a dinner to honor him. He died of cancer a few months later, on June 6, 1983.
Edward Ullman, president 1913-1916
Edward Goldsmith Ullman was born on July 3, 1868 in Natchez, Mississippi. His father Samuel was a grocer and his mother Emma was a housewife. He married Gertrude Goodman in 1898 and they had two children, Emma in 1899 and Edward in 1908. He first worked as an electrician in Natchez, but by 1910 he owned a motion picture exhibition company and was living in Hoboken, New Jersey. He became a cameraman and shot films for Reliance-Majestic in Yonkers, New York. He moved to Los Angeles in 1912 to work for the Monopol Film Company. After they went bankrupt, he moved to Universal, where he shot their first serial, Lucille Love: The Girl of Mystery (1914) with Francis Ford and Grace Cunard. In 1916 he became the superintendent of Universal’s photography department and their chief cameraman His films included Wild Cat of Paris and Father and the Boys. He left Universal in 1919 and went to the Christie Company, where he shot short comedies, including Two A.M. and A Seaside Siren.
Ullman was an enthusiastic member of the Static Club. He attended the second meeting on February 21, 1913, and he was already contributing, joining the by-laws committee. He served three terms as president until March 1916 and was the vice president from March to May 1917. In addition, he served on many committees, including the ball, sick, and education committees. Surprisingly for someone so active in the Statics, he appears to have barely been a part of the ASC. He was not among the founding members and he appeared only on two membership lists, one in 1919 and one in 1927.
His last feature credit was for Prowlers of the Night (1926) at Universal. By 1929 he had left the entertainment industry and became a salesman with New York Life Insurance Company, though he was also part of the crew who shot the land rush in Cimarron. He died of heart disease on February 9, 1940 in Los Angeles.
His son Edward was also in the film business, as a sound recordist, first at RKO and later Warner Bros.
Charles Rosher, president 1916-1917, 1918-end
Charles Rosher had a long and acclaimed career as a cinematographer. He shared the first Oscar for best cinematography with Karl Strauss for Sunrise in 1928. He continued to work until 1955. He was also a founding member of the ASC.
Charles Gladdish Rosher was born November 17,1885 in London, England. His parents were Charles Henry and Emily Bevan Rosher. His father was an architect and civil engineer.
He studied photography at the London Polytechnic and he got a job as a portrait photographer at Speaight Court Photographers in Bond Street. In 1908 he attended a photography convention in Rochester, New York where he was hired by an American still photography company. In his spare time he bought a motion picture camera, and the footage he shot caught the attention of the Nestor Films. Rosher went to work for them, and in 1911 he came along when they moved to Los Angeles. He worked for many different studios in Hollywood, including Pathe, Mutual (who sent him to film Pancho Villa in Mexico) and Lasky. In 1917 Mary Pickford hired him, and he stayed with her for the next 12 years. His exceptional work with her on films like Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) and Sparrows (1926) made him one of the best-known cameramen in the industry. In 1926 he was loaned to F.W. Murnau to collaborate with Karl Struss on Sunrise, which not only won the first Academy Award for cinematography, it was also voted third best-shot film made between 1894-1949 in the ASC’s poll, beaten only by Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind.
Rosher joined the Static Club in February 1915, and he quickly made himself useful. He served on the lecture, ball, house, examination and initiation committees, and was elected to the Board of Directors three times, in 1916, 1917 and 1918. He served as the club’s President twice, in 1916 and 1918. He also helped to reorganize the club into the ASC.
He had a distinguished career in sound and color films, too. He earned five more Academy Award nominations and shared the Oscar for The Yearling (1946) with Leonard Smith and Arthur Arling. He got to work on many Technicolor musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Showboat (1951). After his retirement in 1955, he stayed busy, speaking at film festivals and at the ASC.
Rosher was married four times to three women: Lolita Hayes from 1913 to 1923, Doris Cubitt from 1925 to 1934, Odette Guazone from 1934 to1947, then he re-married his second wife Doris and they stayed together until the end of his life. He had two children who both were part of the film industry: Dorothy (born in 1914) who acted under the name Joan Marsh, and Charles Rosher Jr. (born in 1935), who became a cinematographer and an ASC member.
He died in Lisbon, Portugal on January 15, 1974 following an accidental fall. He was the last of the founding members of A.S.C. to pass away.
Al Cawood, president March 1917-October 1917
Albert Edward Cawood was born on December 3, 1880 in Moberly, Missouri. He grew up in Carnforth, Lancashire, England, living with his widowed music teacher mother Mary Hemingway Cawood and her parents. By 1900 he had moved to New York City with his wife and daughter (both named Elmar), where he worked first as a bookkeeper then as a photographer. By 1909 he was working for the American News Company, shooting photographs for postcards. He became a moving picture cameraman for the Kalem Company and he shot dramas like A Spartan Mother (1912) and Shannon of the Sixth (1914). Then he joined the Universal Film Company, where he mostly worked with the Nestor’s Lyons and Moran, one of the first major comedy teams in film. They produced a one-reel comedy every week; Camera estimated that by November 1919 he’d shot over 250 films with them.
He was very active in the Static Club. As the chairman of the by-laws committee, he complied and corrected them in 1915, and drafted the club’s first constitution. He edited the Static Club Bulletin. He was also the chair of the membership committee, and served on the advertising and ball committees. He was the club’s secretary in 1916 and the president in 1917.
His final credit was for Ruth of the Rockies (1920) a fifteen-part serial starring Ruth Roland. He left cinematography and became the manager of the Glendale Theater, then he went back to still photography. His final job was as a utility man at the Los Angeles County Hospital.
He had spilt up with his first wife before he moved to California; he married Mabel Darmstadt in 1912 and they had a son, Albert, in 1914. They divorced in the mid-1920’s, and he married Anna Cottle in 1929; their son Martin was born in 1930.
Al Cawood died of lung cancer on April 14, 1960 in Artesia, California.
Eddie Littell, president October 1917-March 1918
Edward Derby Littell was born on July 9, 1881 in Chester, New York, a village 60 miles north west of New York City. His father, also Edward, owned a general store (he formerly worked for the railroad) and his mother, Ida, raised a large family; Littell had 3 sisters and 4 brothers.
Eddie Littell first job was as a clerk in his father’s store, but by 1907 he had moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a chauffer at a hotel. His Motion Picture Studio Directory listing says he got his start in film as an actor and cameraman at Biograph Studio, but he spent most of his career at Selig Polyscope, beginning in 1914 where he shot one-reel dramas like A Studio Escapade (1915) and The Grinning Skull (1916).
Littell’s time in the Static Club was eventful. He applied for membership in November 1916, underwent an examination by the membership committee in December and was voted in at their January 16, 1917 meeting. Two months later he was elected to the Board of Directors, and he served on the house and membership committees. In May, following the fight over the name change, he was elected vice-president after suggesting to strike the whole thing from the record. In October he became president after Al Cawood stopped attending meetings.
Selig Polyscope went bankrupt in 1918 and stopped making films. Littell continued to give his occupation as “cameraman” in the 1920 census but his name doesn’t appear in any surviving film credits. He later owned a Native American novelty shop in Santa Monica.
He married Vera Baldwin in 1914 and they had one daughter, Marjorie, in 1922. They spilt up in the mid-1920’s.
He died on May 27, 1958 in Van Nuys following a heart attack.
“A.S.C. Occupies New Office,” American Cinematographer, October 1924, 4.
“Al Cawood,” Warren Morning Chronicle, May 18, 1919, 21.
“Albert E. Cawood,” New Castle News, August 28, 1909, 5.
“Broening Leave Famous Players,” Moving Picture World, November 16, 1918, 747.
“Broening with Famous Players,” Moving Picture News, August 9, 1913, 15.
Broening, H. Lyman. “”How It All Happened: A Brief Review of the Beginnings of the American Society of Cinematographers.” American Cinematographer, November 1, 1921, 13. Reprinted with additions: American Cinematographer, April 1928, 28, 35.
Brownlow, Kevin. “Charles Rosher” in The Parade’s Gone By.. Los Angeles, CA: Univerisyt of California Press, 1968, 222-235.
“Burton D. Allen, Selig Cameraman, Dead,” Motion Picture News, September 25, 1915, 107.
“Cameramen Hold a Smoker,” Moving Picture World, May 11, 1918, 866.
“Cinema Camera,” Moving Picture News, April 26, 1913,10.
Cinema News, December 1916-December 1918.
“Coast Film Folk Flock to Static Club Dance,” Motion Picture News, June 12, 1915, 68.
“Film Heroes and Heroines at Ball,” Los Angeles Examiner, January 17, 1914.
Giebler, A.H. “News of Los Angeles and Vicinity,” Moving Picture World, November 2, 1918, 395.
Grandford, Gardner. “Free Fights for Movies at Vernon Arena Today,” Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1914, I17.
“H. Lyman Broening,” American Cinematographer, February 1, 1922, 52.
Hussey, George. “Lots of Class at Dance of Players,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, January 17, 1914.
Jessen, J.C. “In and Out of West Coast Studios,” Motion Picture News, February 19, 1916, 995.
Jessen, J.C. “In and Out of West Coast Studios,” Motion Picture News, April 28, 1917, 2681.
Jessen, J.C. “One Hundred Thousand Miles of Positive Film is Needed to Make Subjects in West Coast Studios,” Motion Picture News, July 22, 1916, 406.
Jessen, J.C. “Static Club Moves into Permanent Quarters,” Motion Picture News, September 19, 1914, 26.
“Leonard Smith Elected President of American Society of Cinematographers.” American Cinematographer, May 1943, 169.
“Leonard Smith Re-Elected President of American Society of Cinematographers.” American Cinematographer, June 1946, 199.
“L.A. Picture Gossip,” Variety, April 11, 1913, 15.
Los Angeles City Directory, 1918.
Minutes of the Static Club of America, Inc. 1913-1918.
“Motion Picture Cameramen’s Organizations in America,” International Photographer, October 1935, 3.
Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1916-1921.
“Movie Folk Dance at Static Club Affair,” Los Angeles Examiner, May 30, 1915.
“Organizations,” Camera, April 16, 1918, 12.
“Photoplays and Players,” Washington Post, January 4, 1914, SM2.
Price, Guy. “Coast Picture News,” Variety, May 3, 1918, 41.
“Right off the Reel,” Motion Picture News, May 2, 1914, 78.
“Smoker and Dutch Lunch,” Static Flashes, February 6, 1915, 1.
Souvenir: Picture Player Camera Man’s Ball under the Auspices of the Static Club of America. January 16, 1914.
“Static Club,” Moving Picture World, July 10, 1915, 272-3.
“Static Club Ball,” Moving Picture World, February 19, 1916, 1112.
“Static Club Ball a Great Success,” Moving Picture World, April 28, 1917, 629.
“Static Club Elect Officers,” Static Flashes, March 6, 1915, 3.
Static Flashes, January-August 1915.
“Static Flashes Ceases Publication,” Moving Picture World, October 9, 1915, 235.
Wanamaker, Marc and James Forsher. “Lyman Broening ASC – Pioneer Cinematographer,” American Cinematographer, August, 1983, 42-45, 113-114.
“Who Can Better This Record?” Camera, November 15, 1919, 4.
“Wm. F. Alder,” Static Flashes, May 8, 1915, 7.
* This could have been the inspiration for the later name, the American Society of Cinematographers.