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Overview (4)

Born in River Point, Rhode Island, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameWilliam Howard Greene
Nickname Duke

Mini Bio (1)

W. Howard Greene, a pioneer in color cinematography, was nominated for an Oscar seven times, including five straight years from 1940 to 1944. All of his nominations were for his work in color, in the days when color and black and white cinematography were different categories at the Academy Awards.

Color cinematography was not recognized as a distinct category by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences until the 12th Academy Awards, held in 1940 for the 1939 production year. For the 1936 to '38 production years, a committee of leading cinematographers made a recommendation to the Academy for an Honorary Award after viewing the color movies produced during the year. In 1937, Greene was the first winner of the Honorary Academy Award, a plaque, for color cinematography, along with Harold Rosson, for their work on The Garden of Allah (1936). Singly, he received the Honorary Award plaque for color cinematography in 1938, for his work on A Star Is Born (1937). He won a competitive Oscar in 1944, along with Hal Mohr, for their work on Phantom of the Opera (1943).

As befitting a man with his surname, Greene began specializing in color photography in the early 1920s. He shot the color sequences for Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) in Technicolor's two-color, subtractive cemented-dual-print process. Later, he worked as a camera operator at Warner Bros.-First National on Doctor X (1932) and _Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)_ (v), both of which were photographed with Technicolor's newer, subtractive two-color dye transfer process.

Warner Bros. was the industry leader in making Technicolor films in 1930, producing 15 color films, 11 of which were fully in color, the four others having color sequences. "Wax Museum" generally is considered the most beautiful color feature film produced under the two-color Technicolor process. Herbert T. Kalmus, the president of Technicolor, considered it to be one of the best examples of what was possible with the two-color system. However, color usage waned in 1931 due to the economic effects of the Depression, the lack of novelty, and audience dissatisfaction with the limited palette of colors. Audiences had grown content with sound and seemingly didn't need color, which was expensive to shoot.

It wasn't until the latter part of the 1930s, with the advent of Technicolor's three-strip, three-color dye transfer process, that color film matured into a real medium of artistic expression. The new process required an innovative, custom camera, outfitted with a film magazine that contained three reels of specially prepared B&W film. The process was made possible by the advent of panchromatic B&W film, which was sensitive to all of the colors in the visible spectrum, and was used to shoot reds and greens on two separate reels of films. The third film, which was for blue, consisted of the older orthochromatic B&W film stock, which was not sensitive to light at the red end of the spectrum. The three B&W prints registered the effects of red, green and blue light. They were optically printed and later dyed with the appropriate colors to create what was heralded as "Glorious Technicolor" prints.

_Becky Sharp (1935)_ (qv_, which was shot by Ray Rennahan under the supervision of Kalmus' wife Natalie Kalmus (who also served as a consultant on "Mystery of the Wax Museum" and later on "The Garden of Allah" and "A Star is Born"), was the first feature film to use the three-color process. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), which was shot by Greene and documentary filmmaker Robert C. Bruce, was the first Technicolor film shot in the outdoors. Technicolor chief Herbert Kalmus didn't believe it could be done outside of a studio, as he thought that the light and color couldn't be controlled, but director Henry Hathaway insisted, and the on-location photography was a success.

Now working for David O. Selznick, Greene established a reputation as one of the best color directors of photography in the film industry, working with the new three-strip Technicolor that reproduced the visual spectrum. He got his first honorary Academy Award for "Garden of Allah," but it was Selznick's "A Star is Born" that cemented Greene's reputation. His use of Technicolor to create a glistening palette of color was groundbreaking.

Subsequently, Greene shot Arabian Nights (1942) for Universal, which was its first color film, and won his Oscar statuette while at Universal for Phantom of the Opera (1943). He would go on to win one more Oscar nomination, for When Worlds Collide (1951), and shot his last film in 1955. His career as a leading cinematographer was cut short when he died in 1956.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Family (1)

Spouse Helena L. Greene (8 January 1923 - ?)

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