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‘In The Heat Of The Night,’ ‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf’ Cinematographer Haskell Wexler Dies

Cinematographer Haskell Wexler arrives at the Clarity Theater for the 9th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival opening night gala in 2009  (Thinkstock: Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images).
Cinematographer Haskell Wexler arrives at the Clarity Theater for the 9th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival opening night gala in 2009 (Thinkstock: Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images).

Legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who photographed some of the most acclaimed films of his era won two Oscars for his work behind the camera, died today at the age of 93, according to his son.

Wexler died in his sleep at Santa Monica’s Providence Saint John Health Center, his son Jeff Wexler told the Hollywood Reporter.

“It is with great sadness that I have to report that my father, Haskell Wexler, has died,” Jeff Wexler wrote on his website. “Pop died peacefully in his sleep, Sunday, December 27th, 2015. Accepting the Academy Award in 1967, pop said: ‘I hope we can use our art for peace and for love.’ An amazing life has ended but his commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will carry on.”

Haskell Wexler won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for 1966’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and again for 1976’s “Bound For Glory.” He was also the cinematographer on 1975’s Best Picture winner “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest”  and 1967’s winner, “In the Heat of the Night.”

In addition to his prolific career as a cinematographer, Wexler will be remembered for writing, producing and directing 1969’s “Medium Cool,” a drama starring Robert Forster as a cameraman who gets involved with a woman and her son. The film was shot in a documentary style and used real footage shot by Wexler of the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago that summer. It earned a cult following and is considered way ahead of its time in the way it mixed fact and fiction.

Wexler was born in 1922 in Chicago. He attended UC Berkeley, then made documentary and educational films in Chicago for 10 years before coming to Hollywood.

In his later years Wexler working mostly in documentaries, many with political themes.

He is survived by sons Jeff and Mark Wexler, who both work in films, and third wife Rita Taggart, an actress and cinematographer.

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