[Right] with actress Lana Turner

With Bob Weide [left]

Photo by Whyaduck Productions

               

GEORGE J. FOLSEY

Born: 2 July 1898, Brooklyn, N.Y., USA, as George Joseph Folsey.

Died: 1 November 1988, Santa Monica, Calif., USA.

Career: Entered the film industry in 1913 as an office boy at the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company in New York City. Around 1914 he was offered the position of c.asst working with H. Lyman Broening. At the age of 19, he became 2nd cameraman [shooting a second negative for overseas release]. When the first doph left, dir Kenneth Webb asked him to finish shooting 'Her Bridal Night', starring Alice Brady. Brady was satisfied and offered him a contract to photograph her future pictures. Became contract doph for Associated First National and worked in their East and West Coast studios. From 1929-32 he ph several films in the Paramount Astoria Studios in Long Island. Joined MGM in Hollywood.

Was a member [and president, 1956-57] of the ASC since 1927.

His son George Jr. [1939-] is a film editor & producer.

Appeared in the doc's 'You Can't Fool a Camera' [1941; 11m; ph: Jackson Rose], 'Hollywood [: A Celebration of the American Silent Film]' [1980, Kevin Brownlow & David Gill; 13-part tv-series] & 'The Marx Brothers In a Nutshell' [1982, Richard Patterson].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1932-33] for 'Reunion in Vienna'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1934] for 'Operator 13'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1936] for 'The Gorgeous Hussy'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1943; color] for 'Thousands Cheer'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1944; b&w] for 'The White Cliffs of Dover'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1944; color] for 'Meet Me in St. Louis'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1946; b&w] for 'The Green Years'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1947; b&w] for 'Green Dolphin Street'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1952; color] for 'Million Dollar Mermaid'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1953; color] for 'All the Brothers Were Valiant'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1954; b&w] for 'Executive Suite'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1954; color] for 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'; 'George' Award [1957] for 'The Letter'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1963; b&w] for 'The Balcony'; 'Emmy' Award [1968-69] for 'Here's Peggy Fleming'; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [1988].



George Folsey had a career that was a model example of the class-A craftsman who stuck to one studio. Unfortunately the studio was MGM, a place never known for adventurous photography. Nevertheless, he did succeed more often than most [in collaboration with, e.g. Frank Borzage and Vincente Minnelli] to achieve a satisfying divergence from the toneless norm. [Markku Salmi in 'Film Dope', #16, February 1979.]

Robert Z. Leonard - ? - George Folsey - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

George Folsey - Early Cinematographer

November 04, 1988 | Burt A. Folkart | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

George Folsey, a motion picture industry office boy at age 14 and a cameraman at 19 who retired six decades later with 13 Academy Award nominations and one 'Emmy' for his photographic labors, is dead at the age of 90. Folsey died Tuesday at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica.

Folsey, born in Brooklyn, was running errands as a teenager at the old Lasky Players New York headquarters. Jobs were so scarce at the time that he opted to be employed rather than complete high school and gravitated toward the technical end of the embryonic motion picture industry. Within a year he was an assistant cameraman and four years later, had earned his first film credit as a camera operator.

He earned a reputation as a pioneer in the area of subtle lighting, abandoning the harsh contrasts found in the early silent and sound films.

Folsey's first pictures include the fabled 'Applause', Rouben Mamoulian's 1929 tragic story of a vaudeville star who loses the affection of her daughter. Folsey's camera was praised by the journal The Arts as 'an omniscient, omnipresent eye that slides easily over the links of the story and emphasizes only the true and the relevant.'

Folsey's photography ran the gamut from the first two Marx Brothers wacky tours de force ['The Cocoanuts' and 'Animal Crackers'] to several of Metro Goldwyn Mayer's melodic extravaganzas, including 'Meet Me in St. Louis'.

In 1957, Folsey was one of 15 men awarded a special 'George Eastman Medal of Honor'. That year the Kodak company singled out a handful of cameramen and photographic executives for what was then considered the highest prize in cinematography ever awarded outside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Harry Wolf, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, which last year gave Folsey its Lifetime Achievement Award, observed that 'when Folsey was winning all these [13 'Oscar'] nominations, Hollywood was producing 500 to 600 feature films a year. There were many other great cinematographers working during that time so it was an extraordinary achievement.'

Folsey recently recalled the day as a youth when he was visiting a museum and saw the 18th-Century French painter Jean Ingres' painting 'of a young boy stepping out of a bed with a lot of draperies and curtains blowing and soft, suffused, absolutely beautiful light... This seriously affected my concept of how light should look.'

Folsey is survived by his wife, Angela, a son, George Jr., the producer, and two grandchildren. A funeral Mass will be said Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood.



 FILMS [1 reel = c. 10m]

1919

Her Bridal Night [Kenneth Webb] b&w; 5 reels; cph: Jacques Montéran; started as c.asst, but took over from J. Montéran, who was called to France on business; prod Select Pictures Corporation

1919

The Fear Market [Kenneth Webb] b&w; 5 reels; prod Realart Pictures Corporation (RPC)

1920

Sinners [Kenneth Webb] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1920

The Stolen Kiss [Kenneth Webb] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1920

The Frisky Mrs. Johnson [Edward Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (FPLC)

1920

The Education of Elizabeth [Edward Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod FPLC

1921

The Price of Possession [Hugh Ford] b&w; 5 reels; prod Famous Players-Lasky British Producers

1921

Sheltered Daughters [Edward Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1921

A Heart to Let [Edward Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1921

Room and Board [Alan Crosland] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1921

The Case of Becky [Chester M. Franklin] b&w; 6 reels; prod RPC

1922

Nancy From Nowhere [Chester M. Franklin] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1922

A Game Chicken [Chester M. Franklin] b&w; 5 reels; prod RPC

1922

Slim Shoulders [Alan Crosland] b&w; 6 reels; prod Tilford Cinema Studios

1922

What's Wrong with the Women? [Roy William Neill] b&w; prod Daniel Carson Goodman Corporation

1922

M.A.R.S./The Man From Mars [Roy William Neill] Teleview/b&w; prod ?

1922

Radio-Mania [Roy William Neill] Teleview/b&w; re-edited version of 'M.A.R.S.'; prod ?

1923

The Bright Shawl [John S. Robertson] b&w; prod Inspiration Pictures (IP); made in Cuba

1923

The Fighting Blade [John S. Robertson] b&w; prod IP

1923

Twenty-One [John S. Robertson] b&w; prod IP

1924

The Enchanted Cottage [John S. Robertson] b&w; prod IP

1924

Born Rich [William Nigh] b&w; prod Garrick Pictures

1925

The Necessary Evil [George Archainbaud] b&w; prod First National Pictures, Inc. (FN)

1925

The Half-Way Girl [John Francis Dillon] b&w; prod FN

1925

Scarlet Saint [George Archainbaud] b&w; prod FN

1926

Too Much Money [John Francis Dillon] b&w; prod FN

1926

The Savage [Fred Newmeyer] b&w; prod FN

1926

Ladies at Play/Loose Ankles [Alfred E. Green] b&w; prod FN

1927

Orchids and Ermine [Alfred Santell] b&w; prod John McCormick Prods (JMP)

1927

See You In Jail [Joseph Henabery] b&w; 6 reels; prod Ray Rockett Prods

1927

Naughty But Nice [Millard Webb] b&w; prod JMP

1927

American Beauty/The Beautiful Fraud [Richard Wallace] b&w; prod FN

1927

No Place to Go/Her Primitive Mate [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; prod Henry Hobart Prods

1927

Her Wild Oat [Marshall Neilan] b&w; prod FN

1928

Lady Be Good [Richard Wallace] b&w; prod FN

1928

The Butter and Egg Man/Actress and Angel [Richard Wallace] b&w; prod FN

1928

The Hole in the Wall [Robert Florey] b&w

1929

Pusher-in-the-Face [Robert Florey] b&w; 3 reels

1929

The Letter [Jean de Limur] b&w; 6 reels; silent & sound versions; prod Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation (PFLC) 

1929

Gentlemen of the Press [Millard Webb] b&w

[L>R] co-dir Joseph Santley - Zeppo Marx - Groucho Marx - George Folsey - Chico Marx - Harpo Marx - co-dir Robert Florey

1929

The Cocoanuts [Robert Florey & (song & dance numbers) Joseph Santley] b&w

1929

Night Club [Robert Florey] b&w; 3 reels

1929

Applause/Every Day Is Sunday [Rouben Mamoulian] b&w; silent & sound versions; prod PFLC

1929

The Battle of Paris/The Gay Lady [Robert Florey] b&w

1929

Glorifying the American Girl/Glorifying the Show Girl [Millard Webb & (revue dir) John W. Harkrider] b&w + color seq; silent & sound versions; prod PFLC

1929

The Laughing Lady [Victor Schertzinger] b&w; silent & sound versions; prod PFLC

[Right] with actor Maurice Chevalier

"The Big Pond"

1930

The Big Pond [Hobart Henley] b&w

1930

La grande mare [Hobart Henley] b&w; French-language version of 'The Big Pond'

1930

Animal Crackers [Victor Heerman] b&w

1930

Dangerous Nan McGrew [Malcolm St. Clair] b&w

1930

Laughter [Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast] b&w

1930

The Royal Family of Broadway/Theatre Royal [George Cukor & Cyril Gardner] b&w

1930

Stolen Heaven [George Abbott] b&w

1930

Honor Among Lovers [Dorothy Arzner] b&w

1931

The Smiling Lieutenant [Ernst Lubitsch] b&w

1931

Secrets of a Secretary [George Abbott] b&w

1931

My Sin [George Abbott] b&w

1931

The Cheat [George Abbott] b&w

1932

The Wiser Sex [Berthold Viertel] b&w; uncred cph: Joseph Ruttenberg

1932

The Misleading Lady [Stuart Walker] b&w; filmed at the Paramount Studio in Astoria, Long Island; studio was closed after this film was finished

1932

The Big Broadcast [Frank Tuttle] b&w

1932

The Animal Kingdom/A Woman in His House [Edward H. Griffith & (uncred add scenes) George Cukor] b&w; ph add scenes: Henry Gerrard

1932

Men Must Fight [Edgar Selwyn] b&w

1933

Reunion in Vienna [Sidney Franklin] b&w

1933

Storm at Daybreak [Richard Boleslawski] b&w

1933

Stage Mother [Charles Brabin] b&w

1933

Going Hollywood/Cinderella's Fella [Raoul Walsh] b&w

1933

Men in White [Richard Boleslawski] b&w

1934

Operator 13/Spy 13 [Richard Boleslawski] b&w

1934

Chained [Clarence Brown] b&w

1934

Forsaking All Others [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w; cph: Gregg Toland

1934

Reckless [Victor Fleming] b&w

1935

Age of Indiscretion [Edward Ludwig] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Ernest Haller

1935

Page Miss Glory [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1935

I Live My Life [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w; uncred cph: William Daniels

1935

Kind Lady/House of Menace [George B. Seitz] b&w

1936

Hearts Divided [Frank Borzage] b&w

1936

The Great Ziegfeld [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w; cph Ziegfeld Roof numbers; ph: Oliver T. Marsh

1936

The Gorgeous Hussy [Clarence Brown] b&w

1936

Parnell [John M. Stahl] b&w; uncred cph; ph Karl Freund (replaced G. Folsey)

1936

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney [Richard Boleslawski; (uncred) Dorothy Arzner & George Fitzmaurice] b&w

[Left] with dir Dorothy Arzner and actors George Zucco & Joan Crawford

"The Bride Wore Red"

1937

The Bride Wore Red [Dorothy Arzner] b&w

1937

Mannequin [Frank Borzage] b&w

1937

Arsène Lupin Returns [George Fitzmaurice] b&w

1938

Marie Antoinette [W.S. Van Dyke II (replaced Sidney Franklin)] b&w (sepia); co-uncred cph; ph: William Daniels

1938

Hold That Kiss [Edwin L. Marin] b&w

1938

The Shining Hour [Frank Borzage] b&w

1938

Fast and Loose [Edwin L. Marin] b&w

1939

Society Lawyer [Edwin L. Marin] b&w

1939

Lady of the Tropics [Jack Conway] b&w; uncred cph: Norbert Brodine

1939

Fast and Furious [Busby Berkeley] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Ray June

1939

Remember? [Norman Z. McLeod] b&w; uncred cph: Ray June

1940

Two Girls on Broadway/Choose Your Partner [S. Sylvan Simon] b&w

1940

Third Finger, Left Hand [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w

1940

Gallant Sons [George B. Seitz] b&w; uncred cph (replaced S. Wagner, who fell ill); ph: Sidney Wagner

1940

Come Live with Me [Clarence Brown] b&w; cph: Charles Lawton Jr.

1940

Free and Easy [George Sidney & (uncred retakes) Edward Buzzell] b&w; 56m; cph: Charles Lawton Jr.

1940

The Trial of Mary Dugan [Norman Z. McLeod] b&w

1941

Rage in Heaven [W.S. Van Dyke II (replaced Robert B. Sinclair, who fell ill) & (uncred retakes) Richard Thorpe] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Oliver T. Marsh

1941

Lady Be Good [Norman Z. McLeod (replaced Busby Berkeley, who was 'demoted' to dance dir)] b&w; cph: Oliver T. Marsh

1941

Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day/Mary Names the Day [Harold S. Bucquet] b&w; 8th film in 15-part 'Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie'-series (MGM, 1938-47)

1941

Married Bachelor [Edward Buzzell & (uncred) Norman Taurog] b&w

1941

Panama Hattie [Norman Z. McLeod] b&w; uncred cph: Sidney Wagner; filmed July-October 1941 & April-May 1942 (add scenes & retakes dir by Roy Del Ruth & Vincente Minnelli)

1941

Rio Rita [S. Sylvan Simon] b&w

1942

Grand Central Murder [S. Sylvan Simon] b&w

1942

Seven Sweethearts/Tulip Time [Frank Borzage] b&w

1942

Andy Hardy's Double Life [George B. Seitz] b&w; cph: John Mescall; 13th film in 16-part 'Andy Hardy'-series (MGM, 1937-46 & 1958)

1942

Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant [Willis Goldbeck] b&w; 11th film in 'Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie'-series (MGM, 1938-47)

1942

Three Hearts for Julia [Richard Thorpe] b&w

1942

Thousands Cheer [George Sidney] c

1943

A Guy Named Joe [Victor Fleming] b&w; cph: Karl Freund

1943

The White Cliffs of Dover [Clarence Brown] b&w

1943

Meet Me in St. Louis [Vincente Minnelli] c; ph 'The Trolley Song' seq: Harold Rosson

1944

Ziegfeld Follies [of 1944 (preview, 1944)] [of 1946 (road show premiere, 1945)] [Vincente Minnelli (replaced George Sidney) & (uncred) Roy Del Ruth & Norman Taurog (add scenes & retakes, 1945)] c; cph: Charles Rosher (finale 'There's Beauty Everywhere'), Ray June & Sidney Wagner; puppet seq ph: William Ferrari; filmed March-August 1944 & January 1945

1944

The Clock/Under the Clock [Vincente Minnelli (replaced Fred Zinnemann who started the film in August)] b&w; background shooting New York: Harold Lipstein

1945

The Harvey Girls [George Sidney] c

1945

The Green Years [Victor Saville] b&w

1945

Till the Clouds Roll By [Richard Whorf (dram seq; replaced Henry Koster, who replaced Busby Berkeley), Robert Alton (mus numbers), Vincente Minnelli (uncred Judy Garland numbers - October-November 1945) & George Sidney (uncred finale)] c; cph: Harry Stradling Sr. (scenes dir by R. Whorf - March-May 1946)

1946

The Secret Heart [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w

1946

Green Dolphin Street [Victor Saville] b&w

1947

If Winter Comes [Victor Saville] b&w

1947

State of the Union/The World and His Wife [Frank Capra] b&w; sfx ph: A. Arnold Gillespie

1948

Take Me Out to the Ball Game/Everybody's Cheering [Busby Berkeley; mus numbers dir by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen)] c

1948

The Great Sinner [Robert Siodmak] b&w

1949

Malaya/East of the Rising Sun [Richard Thorpe] b&w

1949

Adam's Rib [George Cukor] b&w; sfx ph: A. Arnold Gillespie

1949

The Big Hangover [Norman Krasna] b&w

1950

A Life of Her Own [George Cukor] b&w; 150m & 108m

1950

Vengeance Valley [Richard Thorpe] c

1950

Mr. Imperium/You Belong to My Heart [Don Hartman] c; add mus seq shot in January 1951

1950

Night Into Morning [Fletcher Markle] b&w

1951

The Law and the Lady [Edwin Knopf] b&w

1951

Shadow in the Sky [Fred M. Wilcox] b&w

1951

The Man with a Cloak [Fletcher Markle] b&w

1951

Lovely to Look At [Mervyn LeRoy & (uncred fashion show seq) Vincente Minnelli] c

1952

Million Dollar Mermaid/The One Piece Bathing Suit [Mervyn LeRoy] c

1952

The Band Wagon [Vincente Minnelli] c; started the film, but was blamed for delays and replaced by Harry Jackson

1953

All the Brothers Were Valiant [Richard Thorpe] c

1953

Tennessee Champ [Fred M. Wilcox] c

1953

Executive Suite [Robert Wise] b&w

1953

Men of the Fighting Lady/Panther Squadron [Andrew Marton] c

1953

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers [Stanley Donen] cs (+ 70bu)/c

1954

Deep in My Heart [Stanley Donen] c

1954

Hit the Deck [Roy Rowland] cs/c

1954

The Cobweb [Vincente Minnelli] cs/c

1955

Forbidden Planet [Fred M. Wilcox] cs/c

1955

The Battle of Gettysburg [Herman Hoffman] cs/c; doc/30m

1956

The Fastest Gun Alive [Russell Rouse] b&w

1956

These Wilder Years [Roy Rowland] b&w

1956

The Power and the Prize [Henry Koster] cs/b&w

1957

The Seventh Sin [Ronald Neame & (uncred; finished film) Vincente Minnelli] started film, but fell ill; replaced by Ray June

1956

House of Numbers [Russell Rouse] cs/b&w

1957

Tip on a Dead Jockey/Time for Action [Richard Thorpe] cs/b&w

1957

Saddle the Wind [Robert Parrish & (uncred) John Sturges] cs/c

1957

The High Cost of Loving [José Ferrer] cs/b&w

1958

Imitation General [George Marshall] cs/b&w

1958

Torpedo Run [Joseph Pevney] c; presented as a CinemaScope prod, but shot with Panavision lenses

1958

Count Your Blessings [Jean Negulesco] cs/c; cph: Milton Krasner

1959

Cash McCall [Joseph Pevney] c

1959

I Passed for White [Fred M. Wilcox] b&w

1961

Anatomy of an Accident [LeRoy Prinz] 16mm/c; doc/26m

1962

Protection for People [Frederick Stephani] ?; doc/?m

1962

The Balcony [Joseph Strick] b&w

1970

Glass Houses [Alexander Singer] c

1975

That's Entertainment, Part II [Gene Kelly] p/c; ph new seq; + archive footage


 TELEVISION

1956

MGM Parade [ep #17 dir by various] 30-part series, 1955-56 (ABC-tv); clips from or serialized (classic) MGM films; cph: Robert H. Planck & Robert Surtees

1963

The Fugitive [various] 120-part series, 1963-67; other ph: Lloyd Ahern, Carl Guthrie, Fred Mandl, a.o.

1968

Here's Peggy Fleming [Robert Scheerer] special for NBC-tv


 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT

1915

The Incorrigible Dukane [James Durkin] ph: William F. Wagner; + small part

1916

Snow White [J. Searle Dawley] ph: H. Lyman Broening

1918

Uncle Tom's Cabin [J. Searle Dawley] ph: H. Lyman Broening