Charles E. Guggenheim

Active - 1956 - 2002  |   Born - 1923   |   Died - Oct 9, 2002 in Washington, D.C.  |   Genres - History [nf]

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An Oscar-winning director of social, political, and historical films, Washington-based documentarian Charles Guggenheim played a key role in the development of the American documentary in addition to being a pioneer in the use of documentary style for presidential television campaigns. Born in Cincinnati, OH, in 1924, Guggenheim served in WWII before returning stateside to pursue an education at the University of Iowa in 1948. Moving into a career in media shortly thereafter, Guggenheim worked as the producer of the CBS children's series Fearless Fosdick before taking a job as acting director at St. Louis' KETC Educational Communications. Following his creation of Guggenheim Productions in 1954, Guggenheim produced and directed his first feature, the Steve McQueen heist film The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1960). It was Guggenheim's fateful move to Washington which provided the politically minded director with heretofore unprecedented access to political leaders and information. A job at the U.S. Information Agency during the Kennedy administration found Guggenheim working closely with George Stevens Jr. under the management of Edward R. Murrow, and the following three decades found Guggenheim directing media campaigns for numerous presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial candidates. Over the years, documentaries such as Nine From Little Rock (1964), D-Day Remembered (1994), and A Place in the Land (1998) earned Guggenheim not only numerous Oscar nominations, but also a respected place in the legacy of American documentarians. Following a battle with pancreatic cancer, Charles Guggenheim died at Georgetown University Hospital in early October 2002. He was 78.

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