Cinematographer Oswald Morris dies aged 98
- 19 March 2014
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Oscar-winning British cinematographer Oswald Morris, who worked with directors including John Huston and Stanley Kubrick, has died aged 98.
The news was announced on the website of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC), of which he was a founding member and former president.
He won an Academy Award for the 1971 musical Fiddler on the Roof and won four Baftas including one for the 1965 Sean Connery film The Hill.
Morris leaves a son and two daughters.
In a statement, the BSC said it was "deeply saddened" by the death of Morris, known affectionately as 'Ossie', adding, "He had been suffering recently and was happy to move on, which he did contentedly at his home in Fontmell Magna [in Dorset] but it is a great loss to us all."
Oswald Morris was born in November 1915 in Hillingdon, Middlesex, where he was educated at Bishopshalt School.
The dedicated film fan worked as a cinema projectionist during his school holidays, before entering the industry in 1932 as a runner and clapper boy at Wembley Studios.
By 1938, he had progressed to camera operator before his career was curtailed by World War Two. He enlisted with the RAF and served as a bomber pilot.
Following the war, Morris returned to cinema and worked on several productions, including director David Lean's adaptation of Oliver Twist, starring Robert Newton and Alec Guinness.
Twenty years later, he served as cinematographer on Carol Reed's musical Oliver! starring Ron Moody and Oliver Reed. He was Oscar-nominated for his work.
In 1949, he gained his first screen credit as Director of Photography on the thriller Golden Salamander.
Three years later, he began what would be a long-standing collaborative relationship with maverick US director John Huston on his project Moulin Rouge.
Huston asked the cinematographer to make the film look "as if Toulouse-Lautrec had directed it". Morris' colour techniques brought them into dispute with the Technicolor film lab, who said their material was "faulty".
Huston, who was thrilled with the results, was reportedly characteristically blunt in his response to the Technicolor management.
The pair also worked on films including Moby Dick and The Man Who Would Be King.
Morris titled his 2006 autobiography Huston, We Have a Problem: A Kaleidoscope of Film-making Memories.
After he worked on The Hill, Morris teamed up again with director Sidney Lumet on Equus and The Wiz, the Wizard of Oz musical starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
His fantasy work included two outings with Jim Henson on The Great Muppet Caper in 1981. A year later, he worked on The Dark Crystal, his final feature as a cinematographer.
In all, he photographed nearly 60 movies.
Morris was awarded a Bafta fellowship in 1997 and received the British Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
The BSC said: "Ossie will be sorely missed by those in the industry, a delightful man, inspired by Ronald Neame and Guy Green; who in turn has himself been an inspiration to a new generation of cinematographers."