Ben Wolf

Cinematographer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

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."

Highlights
Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
03:58
Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
05:06
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
09:44
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
04:30
Ben Wolf on his favorite working experiences
01:54
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

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
10:40
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
02:20

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Carol Burnett Show
01:24
Ben Wolf on shooting The Carol Burnett Show
01:47

Climax!

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Climax!
04:18
Ben Wolf on the shooting schedule for shows such as Climax!
04:29

Dinah Shore Show, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Dinah Shore Show
01:04

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Ed Sullivan Show
04:03

Full House

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Full House
00:57

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Life With Luigi
02:12

Good Times

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Good Times
04:04

Jack Benny Program, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
03:31
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
04:30

Jeffersons, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jeffersons
01:37

Judy Garland Show, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
05:49
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
02:13

Love Connection

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Love Connection
03:31

Lux Video Theatre

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Lux Video Theatre
02:42

Mama's Family

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Mama's Family
02:15

Maude

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Maude
01:13

Meet Millie

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Meet Millie
02:52

Merv Griffin Show, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Merv Griffin Show and The Lawrence Welk Show
00:57

My Favorite Husband

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting My Favorite Husband
03:54

My Two Dads

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting My Two Dads
02:04

Price is Right, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting various game shows including The Price is Right
03:07

Pursuit

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Pursuit
07:42

Red Skelton Show, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on working as a cameraman on The Red Skelton Show
06:11
Ben Wolf on Red Skelton in front on the camera
02:21
Ben Wolf on his relationship with Red Skelton
03:33
Ben Wolf on the rehearsal for The Red Skelton Show
03:13
Ben Wolf on how Red Skelton worked with the cameras
03:12
Ben Wolf on Seymour Berns, the producer of The Red Skelton Show and the directors on the show
01:43
Ben Wolf on shooting the musical numbers for The Red Skelton Show
01:10
Ben Wolf on the guest stars of The Red Skelton Show
01:08

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
02:56
Ben Wolf on shooting The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
02:46

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:03

Three's Company

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Three's Company
05:00

Tony Orlando & Dawn

View Show Page
Ben Wolf on appearing on-camera on Tony Orlando and Dawn
01:05
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
02:32

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Ben Wolf on his mentors
01:17

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
03:58
Ben Wolf on shooting various other shows for which he won Emmys
02:39

First Big Break

View Topic
Ben Wolf on his first television job as a cameraman at KLAC
05:49

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Ben Wolf on his first television job as a cameraman at KLAC
05:49

Sports

View Topic
Ben Wolf on shooting sporting events
03:32

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Ben Wolf on the emergence of video tape and the transition to color
06:13
Ben Wolf on the kinescope 
03:53
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography
02:16
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed
01:42

Television Industry

View Topic
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
02:32
Professions

Cinematographer

View Profession
Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
05:06
Ben Wolf on how the television cinematographer works with the lighting director
01:55
Ben Wolf on the television cinematographer working with the director
03:37
Ben Wolf on cinematographers working with assistant directors and stage managers
02:27
Ben Wolf on cinematographers establishing a look for a show with lighting directors
02:19
Ben Wolf on shot composition 
02:44
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
02:32
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed
01:42
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography
02:16

Production Professionals

View Profession
Ben Wolf on the role of a cinematographer in television
05:06
Ben Wolf on how the television cinematographer works with the lighting director
01:55
Ben Wolf on the television cinematographer working with the director
03:37
Ben Wolf on cinematographers working with assistant directors and stage managers
02:27
Ben Wolf on cinematographers establishing a look for a show with lighting directors
02:19
Ben Wolf on shot composition 
02:44
Ben Wolf on advice to someone starting out in the cinematography business
02:32
Ben Wolf on how cinematography has changed
01:42
Ben Wolf on then-recent technological developments for cameras and then-current cinematography
02:16
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

View Genre
Ben Wolf on shooting Climax!
08:47

Comedy Series

View Genre
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
03:31
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
04:30
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
09:44
Ben Wolf on shooting Three's Company
05:00

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Ben Wolf on shooting The Red Skelton Show
18:30
Ben Wolf on working on the special Brigadoon, for which he won an Emmy
03:58
People

Jack Benny

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
03:31
Ben Wolf on shooting The Jack Benny Program
04:30

Seymour Berns

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on Seymour Berns, the producer of The Red Skelton Show and the directors on the show
01:43

George Burns

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show  and Life With Luigi
02:12

Charles Cappleman

View Interview Page
Ben Wolf on working with VP of West Coast Operations Charles Cappleman at CBS
02:12

Johnny Carson

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting Carson's Cellar with Johnny Carson
01:43

Cher

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:03

Judy Garland

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
05:49
Ben Wolf on shooting The Judy Garland Show
02:13

Robert F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on his career highlights
03:21

Carroll O'Connor

View Interview Page
Ben Wolf on shooting All in the Family
09:44

Dinah Shore

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Dinah Shore Show
01:04

Red Skelton

View Person Page
Ben Wolf shooting The Red Skelton Show
06:11
Ben Wolf on Red Skelton in front on the camera
02:21
Ben Wolf on his relationship with Red Skelton
03:33
Ben Wolf on the rehearsal for The Red Skelton Show
03:13
Ben Wolf on how Red Skelton worked with the cameras
03:12

Barbra Streisand

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting My Name is Barbra
05:12

Ed Sullivan

View Person Page
Ben Wolf on shooting The Ed Sullivan Show
04:13

All Interviews

Q
S