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Gordon Parks Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Fort Scott, Kansas, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameGordon Alexander Parks

Mini Bio (1)

The pre-eminent American photojournalist of sub-Saharan descent. An acclaimed photographer for Life magazine from the late 40s through late 60s, he turned to directing films, his second of which, the blaxploitation movie Shaft (1971), achieved success at the box office. In 1989 his first film effort, The Learning Tree (1969), was selected among the first 25 films so honored, by the U.S. Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for all time.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs <kinephile@aol.com>

Spouse (3)

Genevieve Young (August 1973 - 1979) ( divorced)
Elizabeth Campbell (1962 - 1973) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Sally Alvis (1933 - 1961) ( divorced) ( 3 children)

Trivia (18)

Father of Gordon Parks Jr., David, Leslie, Toni Parks-Parsons. Grandfather of Alain, Gordon III, Sarah, Campbell and Satchel.
Once was a piano player in a Minnesota bordello.
Spent 1948-49 as a photographer and reporter for Life Magazine.
Co-founder of Essence Magazine
Considered one of the contributors (along with Melvin Van Peebles) to the blaxploitation genre - Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) and Shaft (1971) were the first films to start that genre.
First African-American to write, produce and direct a film for a major studio (Warner Brothers): The Learning Tree (1969), which was based on his semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.
Godfather to 'Quibilah Shabazz', the daughter of Malcolm X (1920-65).
His life story was told in a TV documentary co-produced by Denzel Washington: Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (2000).
Has three schools named after him at lifetime: The Gordon Parks Elementary School in Kansas City, MO; Gordon Parks Academy in East Orange, NJ; Gordon Parks High School in St. Paul, MN.
Was the commencement speaker at the Kansa City Art Institute's Class of 1984 graduation.
He was the youngest of 15 children. He dropped out of high school after his mother died. His jobs included playing piano in a brothel before he became interested in photography while working as a train porter.
Best known for his gritty photo essays on the grinding effects of poverty in the United States and abroad and on the spirit of the civil rights movement.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1988 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Writers Branch)
Frequently smoked a pipe when he made cameo appearances.
Became very close with author Candace Bushnell soon after she moved to Manhattan.
Two of his films, The Learning Tree (1969) and Shaft (1971), are in the National Film Registry.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) with Lon Chaney is his favorite film.

Personal Quotes (1)

[1976 interview in "The Village Voice"] I don't make black exploitation films.

See also

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