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John Alton Overview:

Director, John Alton, was born Johann Altmann on Oct 5, 1901 in Sopron, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary). Alton died at the age of 94 on Jun 2, 1996 in Santa Monica, CA .

HONORS and AWARDS:

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John Alton was nominated for one Academy Award, winning for Best Cinematography for An American in Paris in 1951.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1951Best CinematographyAn American in Paris (1951)N/AWon
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Best Cinematography Oscar 1951








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John Alton Facts
In 1960, following his work on Elmer Gantry (1960), he quit the movie business. He returned briefly in 1966 to direct photography for the pilot episode of the TV series "Mission: Impossible" (1966). Afterwards, he virtually disappeared. For years, even his closest friends did not know his whereabouts. In 1984, his work was honored at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, with a tribute entitled, "Where is John Alton?" In 1993, at the age of 92, Alton heard about Visions of Light (1992), a documentary about cinematographers that included some of his movie work. He contacted the film's producer, Todd McCarthy, and asked to attend the premiere. McCarthy, who had hoped to include an interview with Alton in the film, was astonished to hear from him. Afterwards, Alton insisted that there was nothing mysterious in his disappearance, that he and his wife had simply decided to give up the movie business and travel a bit. They had lived in France, Germany, and Argentina, and had a great time. He died in 1996 at the age of 95.

In the early 1930s, Alton traveled to Argentina to help develop that country's film industry. He helped train several cinematographers and directors, photographed over 20 films himself, and even directed several.

Although he had been a cinematographer since at least 1927, he didn't shoot his first color film until 1951, An American in Paris (1951) -- which got him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

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