Cinematographer Haskell Wexler Receives UCLA’s Highest Honor
Presented by UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block
June 15, 2009
Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, A.S.C., received The UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, at the 2009 UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television commencement on June 12.
The UCLA Medal was created in 1979 and is awarded to those who have made truly extraordinary and distinguished contributions to their professions and to our society.
Recipients have included national and international leaders in government, education, science, industry and the arts, as well as men and women who have advanced UCLA’s development into one of the world’s preeminent universities.
Wexler is renowned for his Oscar wins for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Bound for Glory. His credits include such notable movies as American Graffiti, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Matewan and Coming Home.
Wexler is recognized not only as an influential filmmaker and storyteller, but also as a leading social commentator. Through such influential films as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Bound for Glory and Medium Cool, he put a human face on conflicts between family members, social classes and nations at war.
Born in Chicago, he attended UC Berkeley before leaving to serve in World War II. His career began in Illinois, where after creating a studio with his father, he began to learn film production. After landing his first job as a cinematographer in 1958, he went on to work with such legendary directors as Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison and Milos Forman.
For UCLA students, he has generously shared his resources and vast knowledge, entrusting footage from his own work to the Film & Television Archive. He also has lectured to UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television classes and mentored alumni.
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