Ben Wolf

Cinematographer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Ben Wolf (1929- 2013) recalls his early television experiences at KLAC and CBS in Los Angeles, working on such programs as The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Carson's Cellar and Climax!.  He speaks about his work on The Jack Benny Show and The Red Skelton Show, and explains the day-to-day process of working as a cameraman on the latter program. He touches upon his work on The Judy Garland Show, CBS Playhouse and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He reminisces about working on Norman Lear-produced programs including All in the Family and Maude. He talks about working on Three's Company and Mama's Family  and becoming a freelance cameraman for the remainder of his career. He gives his impression of the then-current state of cinematography on television, and outlines some of the then-recent technological advances. He concludes by sharing several pictures from his long and varied career. Henry Colman conducted the interview on January 23, 2001 in Los Angeles, California.

"When starting out as a cinematographer, seek out someone with white hair or at least fifteen years experience, because that's where you're going to learn everything. Those people will share. The guy with blonde hair and who's twenty-two is trying to do the same thing as you are, and he doesn't have the backing."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
Ben Wolf on his favorite working experiences
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on moving to Los Angeles; on the first time he saw television
On his first job as a cameraman; on early cameras; on shooting The Jack Benny Show

Chapter 2

On shooting The Jack Benny Program, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, and Life with Luigi; on shooting The Ed Sullivan Show and Meet Millie
On shooting My Favorite Husband and Climax!

Chapter 3

On shooting Lux Video Theater; on shooting Pursuit; on the role of a cinematographer in television
On working with the lighting director; on working with various members of the crew; on shot composition 

Chapter 4

On shooting The Red Skelton Show; on his relationship with Red Skelton; on how Red Skelton rehearsed
On how Red Skelton worked with the cameras; on doing the musical numbers for The Red Skelton Show; on shooting The Judy Garland Show

Chapter 5

On shooting The Judy Garland Show; on video tape and the transition to color; on shooting The Carol Burnett Show
On shooting My Name is Barbra; on shooting the special Brigadoon and winning Emmys; on shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Chapter 6

On shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on shooting various game shows, variety shows, and talk shows
On shooting sporting events; on shooting All in the Family

Chapter 7

On shooting All in the Family, Maude and Good Times; on shooting The Jeffersons and Three's Company
On shooting Mama's Family and My Two Dads; on shooting The Love Connection; on favorite people with whom he's worked

Chapter 8

On his favorite working experiences; on recent technological developments and how cinematography has changed; on his career highlights and how he'd like to be remembered 
On B-roll pictures from his career - Buddy Ebsen at CBS; photo of the crew of Climax!; the crew of The Red Skelton Show; on a shoot in Griffith Park; the cast and crew of All in the Family; Carroll O'Connor with the All in the Family camera crew; the cast and crew of Meet Millie; with his Emmy; with Marv Dresser; on the set of Climax!; on the set of On the Go; the entire crew of The Red Skelton Show with the dancers; a news crew in Portland, OR; shooting The Rose Parade; on the set of Brigadoon; Three's Company Christmas card
Shows

All in the Family

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Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Carol Burnett Show
Ben Wolf on shooting The Carol Burnett Show

Climax!

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Ben Wolf on shooting Climax!
Ben Wolf on the shooting schedule for shows such as Climax!

Dinah Shore Show, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Dinah Shore Show

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Ed Sullivan Show

Full House

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Ben Wolf on shooting Full House

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Life With Luigi

Good Times

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Ben Wolf on shooting Good Times

Jack Benny Program, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program

Jeffersons, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Jeffersons

Judy Garland Show, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show

Love Connection

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Ben Wolf on shooting Love Connection

Lux Video Theatre

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Ben Wolf on shooting Lux Video Theatre

Mama's Family

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Ben Wolf on shooting Mama's Family

Maude

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Ben Wolf on shooting Maude

Meet Millie

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Ben Wolf on shooting Meet Millie

Merv Griffin Show, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Merv Griffin Show and The Lawrence Welk Show

My Favorite Husband

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Ben Wolf on shooting My Favorite Husband

My Two Dads

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Ben Wolf on shooting My Two Dads

Price is Right, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting various game shows including The Price is Right

Pursuit

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Ben Wolf on shooting Pursuit

Red Skelton Show, The

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Ben Wolf on working as a cameraman on The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on Red Skelton in front on the camera
Ben Wolf on his relationship with Red Skelton
Ben Wolf on the rehearsal for The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on how Red Skelton worked with the cameras
Ben Wolf on Seymour Berns, the producer of The Red Skelton Show and the directors on the show
Ben Wolf on shooting the musical numbers for The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on the guest stars of The Red Skelton Show

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Ben Wolf on shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Three's Company

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Ben Wolf on shooting Three's Company

Tony Orlando & Dawn

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Ben Wolf on appearing on-camera on Tony Orlando and Dawn
Topics

Advice

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Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Ben Wolf on his mentors

Emmy Awards

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Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
Ben Wolf on shooting various other shows for which he won Emmys

First Big Break

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Ben Wolf on his first television job as a cameraman at KLAC

Pivotal Career Moments

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Ben Wolf on his first television job as a cameraman at KLAC

Sports

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Ben Wolf on shooting sporting events

Technological Innovation

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Ben Wolf on the emergence of video tape and the transition to color
Ben Wolf on the kinescope 
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed

Television Industry

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Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
Professions

Cinematographer

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Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
Ben Wolf on how the television cinematographer works with the lighting director
Ben Wolf on the television cinematographer working with the director
Ben Wolf on cinematographers working with assistant directors and stage managers
Ben Wolf on cinematographers establishing a look for a show with lighting directors
Ben Wolf on shot composition 
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography

Production Professionals

View Profession
Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
Ben Wolf on how the television cinematographer works with the lighting director
Ben Wolf on the television cinematographer working with the director
Ben Wolf on cinematographers working with assistant directors and stage managers
Ben Wolf on cinematographers establishing a look for a show with lighting directors
Ben Wolf on shot composition 
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Ben Wolf on shooting Climax!

Comedy Series

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
Ben Wolf on shooting Three's Company

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
People

Jack Benny

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program

Seymour Berns

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Ben Wolf on Seymour Berns, the producer of The Red Skelton Show and the directors on the show

George Burns

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Ben Wolf on shooting The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  and Life With Luigi

Charles Cappleman

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Ben Wolf on working with VP of West Coast Operations Charles Cappleman at CBS

Johnny Carson

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Ben Wolf on shooting Carson's Cellar with Johnny Carson

Cher

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Judy Garland

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show

Robert F. Kennedy

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Ben Wolf on his career highlights

Carroll O'Connor

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Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family

Dinah Shore

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Dinah Shore Show

Red Skelton

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Ben Wolf shooting The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on Red Skelton in front on the camera
Ben Wolf on his relationship with Red Skelton
Ben Wolf on the rehearsal for The Red Skelton Show
Ben Wolf on how Red Skelton worked with the cameras

Barbra Streisand

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Ben Wolf on shooting My Name is Barbra

Ed Sullivan

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Ben Wolf on shooting The Ed Sullivan Show

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