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Robert Altman DIRECTOR


Robert Altman was born February 20, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was educated in Catholic schools up until high school, when he went to Rockhurst. After, he was sent to Wentworth Military Academy where he attended junior college. In 1943, Altman joined the Air Force, becoming a B-24 bomber pilot. Upon his discharge, he moved to Hollywood for a short time. Altman first attempted acting and appeared as an extra in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1947). He then tried writing and helped create “Christmas Eve” (1947) and “Bodyguard” (1948). However, Altman couldn’t find his niche in the film capital, and after a stint with a publicity company that was tattooing dogs for identification, he moved to Kansas City to accept an industrial film directing, writing, editing, and cinematography position at the Calvin Company.

Sixty five industrial and documentary films later, as well as a number of directing, writing, and editing positions on picture like “Honeymoon for Harriet” (1950), “King Basketball” (1952), “How to Run a Filling Station (1953), and “Corn’s-A-Poppin’” (1956) Altman had over $60,000, which he used to finance his very own project, “The Delinquents” (1957). In 1956, he left Calvin and then came out with his second big movie, “The James Dean Story” (1957), which was a docudrama that delved into the cruel reality behind pop culture icons. Following, Altman was asked to direct a couple “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1957-58) episodes. He was fired, but his stint prompted him to have a successful career in television, solely directing TV series until 1965. Some of his larger projects included “Whirlybirds” (1958-59), “Bonanza” (1960-61), and “Combat!” (1962-63). In 1963, the director formed his own production company, Lion’s Gate Films. The year after, he slowly eased into his renewed film career with the television movie comprised of two of his “Kraft Suspense Theatre” (1963-64) episodes, “Nightmare in Chicago” (1964). Altman directed two shorts, “The Katharine Reed Story” (1965) and “Pot au feu” (1965), before making a comeback to the big screen with the relatively successful “Countdown” (1968). Subsequent was the equally prosperous “That Cold Day in the Park” (1969). From that point on, the director produced, on average, one to two films per year.

In 1970, he got his first big break with the black comedy “M*A*S*H” that dealt with the absurdities of the Korean War. It was quickly hailed as a classic, and earned five Oscar nominations. Later on, a television show was derived from the hit. Following, Altman found no success as great as the latter and regularly experienced shifts in popularity. He also started experimenting in various genres. “Brewster McCloud” (1970) was a fantasy that centered on a man who longed to live inside Houston’s Astrodome. “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971) was considered an “anti-western”. He jumped into film noir with “The Long Goodbye” (1973), but then came out with a Depression era gangster flick right after, titled “Thieves Among Us” (1974). While all of the above turned out to be creative failures, the director redeemed himself with 1975’s “Nashville”. The musical drama earned five Academy Award nominations, as well as helped Lion’s Gate Films discover their full potential for using their eight-track sound system and microphones to create a multi-layered soundtrack. Unfortunately, his next feature, “Buffalo Bill and the Indians” or “Sitting Bull’s History Lesson” (1976), although starring Paul Newman, was a total flop.

Other failed pictures include the forty character dramatic comedy “A Wedding” (1978), sci-fi murder mystery “Quintet” (1979), and satiric “HealtH” (1980). Altman next released the Robin Williams, comic strip based musical “Popeye” (1980). Its commercial disappointment led to the director’s selling of Lion’s Gate Films, thus ending his mainstream career for over a decade. In the meantime, he came out with some critically unknown pictures, but nothing special. Altman’s return arrived with “The Player” (1992), which attacked Hollywood’s morality. Next was “Short Cuts” (1993), a confrontational look at Los Angeles society that was taken from Raymond Carver’s short stories. It also faired quite well. Unfortunately, the director’s streak ended with 1996’s “Kansas City” and 1998’s John Grisham adaptation of “The Gingerbread Man”. In 2001, Altman released the 1930s staged murder mystery picture “Gosford Park”. It won an Oscar and was nominated for six more, putting the director’s name in good regards once again. 2003 saw “The Company”, and in 2006, he directed his final feature, “A Prairie Home Companion”.

On November 30, 2006, the eighty one year old passed away from leukemia complications in Los Angeles, California. For his accomplishments in the motion picture industry, the Director’s Guild of America gave Altman a Lifetime Achievement Award. As well, he has won fifty other awards and been nominated for about the same. Once asked why the great director chose his profession, he responded: “Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.” So it is.

2007       The Wonder of It All

2006       A Prairie Home Companion 

2004       Tanner on Tanner 

2003       The Company

2001       Gosford Park

2001       Roads and Bridges 

2000       Dr T and the Women

2000       Trixie 

1999       Cookie's Fortune

1998       The Gingerbread Man

1998       Liv  

1997       Gun  

1997       Afterglow

1996       Kansas City 

1994       Prêt-à-Porter

1994       Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

1993       Great Performances 

1993       Short Cuts

1993       The Real McTeague 

1992       McTeague

1992       The Player

1990       Vincent & Theo

1988       The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial 

1988       Tanner '88 

1987       Aria 

1987       Beyond Therapy

1987       Basements 

1985       Fool for Love 

1985       The Laundromat

1985       O.C. and Stiggs 

1984       Secret Honor

1983       Streamers

1982       Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

1982       Precious Blood 

1982       Rattlesnake in a Cooler  

1981       Endless Love 

1980       Popeye  

1980       HealtH 

1979       Rich Kids 

1979       A Perfect Couple 

1979       Quintet 

1978       A Wedding

1978       Remember My Name

1977       Saturday Night Live  

1977       The Late Show 

1977       3 Women 

1976       Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson

1976       Welcome to L.A.

1975       Nashville 

1974       California Split

1974       Thieves Like Us

1973       The Long Goodbye 

1972       Images

1971       McCabe & Mrs. Miller

1970       Events

1970       Brewster McCloud 

1970       M*A*S*H 

1969       That Cold Day in the Park

1968       Premiere 

1968       Countdown 

1965       Pot au feu 

1965       The Long, Hot Summer 

1965       The Katherine Reed Story

1964       Nightmare in Chicago 

1963       Kraft Suspense Theatre

1962       What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?   

1962       Combat

1962       The Gallant Men 

1961       Bus Stop 

1961       Route 66  

1961       Peter Gunn

1961       Surfside 6 

1961       Lawman 

1960       Bronco  

1960       The Gale Storm Show 

1960       Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse 

1960       Bonanza 

1960       The Roaring 20's 

1960       Maverick

1959       U.S. Marshal

1959       Sugarfoot    

1959       Troubleshooters

1959       Hawaiian Eye 

1958       The Millionaire 

1958       Whirlybirds  

1958       M Squad 

1957       Alfred Hitchcock Presents  

1957       The Delinquents 

1957       The James Dean Story

1957       Suspicion    

1956       The Magic Bond

1956       Corn's-A-Poppin' 

1955       The Perfect Crime 

1954       The Dirty Look 

1954       The Builders 

1954       Better Football

1953       Modern Baseball

1953       The Last Mile 

1953       The Pulse of the City 

1953       How to Run a Filling Station 

1952       The Sound of Bells

1952       King Basketball 

1951       Modern Football

1950       Honeymoon for Harriet 

1948       Bodyguard 

1947       Christmas Eve

1947       The Secret Life of Walter Mitty  

Matinee Classics - McCabe and Mrs. Miller starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, William Devane, John Schuck, Corey Fischer, Bert Remsen, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Hugh Millais, Jace Van Der Veen, Jackie Crossland, lizabeth Murphy, Carey Lee McKenzie, Thomas Hill, Linda Sorenson, Janet Wright, Maysie Hoy, Linda Kupecek, Jeremy Newson, Jack Riley, Wayne Grace, Robert Fortier, Wayne Robson and Elisabeth Knight
Matinee Classics - Mash starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, Roger Bowen, Rene Auberjonois, David Arkin, Jo Ann Pflug, Gary Burghoff, Fred Williamson, Michael Murphy, Indus Arthur, Ken Prymus, Bobby Troup and Kim Atwood

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