As reported by BBC News, the great British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor (The Omen, Dr. Strangelove and Star Wars, to name but a few) has passed away at the age of 99. His wife Dee revealed that he died with his family at his bedside.
Born in 1914, Taylor entered the film industry in 1929 as a camera assistant at Gainsborough Studios in London. He also served six years in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Taylor had his hand in many a pie, tackling the special effects in The Dam Busters and serving as director of photography on Flash Gordon, but to many he is known for his work on the first Star Wars film which he recalled to American Cinematographer magazine:
“George avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one. So I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture.”
It was the genius of Taylor, in all fields, that attracted many a director to working with him. It was Taylor’s work on Dr. Strangelove that attracted the attention of director Roman Polanski, and eventually working with him on Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac, for which he received BAFTA nominations for both. Speaking about his work with Polanski, Dee said that Taylor “turned down a Bond picture” to work with Polanski, “because he thought Roman was a very interesting guy… The three of us became very firm friends, and we’ve been friends until this day.”
Taylor and Dee met whilst on the set of Tony Hancock’s movie The Punch and Judy Man; four years later they were married. Dee told the BBC she remembered her husband as “wonderful, kind, funny, amusing [and] terribly talented in every aspect… There was nothing he couldn’t do.”