Gabriel Figueroa

Active - 1936 - 1986  |   Born - Apr 24, 1907   |   Died - Apr 27, 1997   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Orphaned at an early age, Gabriel Figueroa went to work while still a pre-teen, partly to support himself, but mainly to finance his hobby of still photography. After majoring in design and violin at Mexico's Conservatorio Nacional, Figueroa opened his own photography studio and also gained a considerable reputation as a painter. First employed by the Mexican film industry in 1932, he headed to Hollywood three years later, learning cinematography under the on-the-job tutelage of Alex Phillips and Gregg Toland. He returned to Mexico in 1936, rapidly developing into one of that country's (and, indeed, the world's) foremost directors of photography. While he has worked with such cinematic heavyweights as John Ford, Luis Buñuel and John Huston, Figueroa is best known for his lengthy association with director Emilio Fernandez. He photographed virtually all of Fernandez' films, winning a Golden Globe award for his work on The Pearl (1947). Figueroa also earned an Oscar nomination for Night of the Iguana (1964), as well as dozens of international honors. Seldom straying outside of Mexico, Gabriel Figueroa made a trip to Yugoslavia in 1968 to lens the outsized war actioner Kelly's Heroes. He died of a stroke following heart surgery, three days after turning 90 in a Mexico City hospital.

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