Oral Histories

Interview of Karl Struss

Photographer and cinematographer.
Recollections of Karl Struss
Oral History of the Motion Picture in America
Film and Television
Biographical Note:
Photographer and cinematographer.
Dorr, John H.
Struss, Karl
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
7.5 hrs.
Interviewee Retained Copyright
Series Statement:
These interviews with prominent individuals in the motion picture industry were completed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Film Institute to the UCLA Department of Theater Arts. The project was directed by Howard Suber, UCLA Department of Theater Arts. The UCLA Oral History Program provided technical advice but was not involved in respondent selection, research participation, research preparation, interviewing, editing, or transcript preparation.
Youth in New York; early photographic work; invention of Struss Pictorial Lens; taking over Clarence White's studio on West Thirty-first Street, across from Alfred Stieglitz's Art Gallery, 1914; making first soft-focus lens used in film industry; aerial photographer, World War I; shooting still pictures for Cecil B. DeMille to get into movie business; varying speeds with hand-turned cameras for particular effects; DeMille's involvement in photography; cinematographer on Sunshine; simultaneous American and European negatives shot; sepia-toned films; lighting scenes; Charlie Rosher; The Legend of Hollywood, 1924; Drums of Love for D. W. Griffith at United Artists, 1928; Lupe Velez in Lady of the Pavements, 1929; sets built in perspective for Sunrise; work with Erle Kenton on The Island of Lost Souls; Los Angeles Pictorialists' annual exhibitions at Los Angeles County Museum; on location at Paramount Pictures Ranch; cinematographer for Mae West films; sixteen years at Paramount Pictures, 1931-47; Manny Cohen; Ben Hur; Irving Thalberg; Fred Niblo; Reeves "Breezy" Eason; Wally Westmore's makeup work in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; photographing sunsets in Hawaii for Four Frightened People, 1933; Mary Pickford and Betty Grable; cinematographer on most of Bing Crosby's films; Dorothy Lamour; work on television commercials.