Harold Rosson

Active - 1915 - 1967  |   Born - Jan 1, 1895   |   Died - Sep 6, 1988   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Hal Rosson's first brush with moviemaking was as a bit player at Brooklyn's Vitagraph studios in 1908. With virtually his entire family--including his director brother Arthur Rosson and his actress sister Helen Rosson--working in California's ever-expanding film industry, Hal himself headed west in 1912. A year later, Rosson was working at Metro Studios as an "Assistant Everything." He had next to no experience with photography, but learned quickly enough to work for director Allan Dwan as a first cameraman in 1915. During the "teen" years, Rosson held down a full-time job at an LA stockbroker's office until his movie responsibilities overwhelmed him. Throughout the 1920s, Rosson functioned as cinematographer for the lustrous likes of Josef von Sternberg, Howard Hawks, King Vidor and Cecil B. DeMille. His success hinged as much on his diplomacy as his talent; even late in life, Rosson had nothing but kind words for everyone with whom he'd worked. Like many top Hollywood cameramen, Rosson ended up marrying one of his leading ladies. From 1933 to 1935, he was the third (and last) husband of Jean Harlow. In 1936, Rosson reluctantly agreed to give Technicolor a try for the first time in his life when David O. Selznick personally demanded his services for The Garden of Allah (1936); as a result, Rosson won a special Academy Award. Before his retirement in 1967, Hal Rosson would receive four additional Oscar nominations for Boom Town (1940), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Bad Seed (1956).

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