Documentarian Marshall Flaum dies at 85

Wed Oct 6, 2010 12:58am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Marshall Flaum, a visionary documentarian and five-time Emmy-winning producer-director-writer, died October 1 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications following hip surgery. He was 85.

During a 55-year career, Flaum's work included collaborations with Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, David Wolper, Jack Haley Jr. and Hanna-Barbera, with subjects ranging from Lyndon Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright to James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In the first of his two Oscar-nominated docs, "The Yanks Are Coming" (1963), Flaum created what he called "the entertainment documentary." He became one of the first in his field to integrate popular music of the time with stock footage of World War I.

"Let My People Go: The Story of Israel" (1965), for which he received his second Academy Award nomination and a Peabody Award, examined the plight of the Jews.

After serving in the Army in World War II and studying acting at the University of Iowa, Flaum headed to Broadway and appeared with Basil Rathbone in "Julius Caesar" and with Olivia de Havilland in "Romeo and Juliet" in the early 1950s while studying acting with Lee Strasberg.

In 1957, he began a six-year stint at CBS as a writer, story editor and associate producer on the Walter Cronkite documentary series "The Twentieth Century," then moved to Hollywood to join a group of young filmmakers working for Wolper.

Flaum collaborated with Haley to produce one of the first Hollywood compilation films, "Hollywood: The Great Stars" (1963). His other Hollywood docs included "Hollywood: The Selznick Years" (1969), "Tribute to Bogart" (1972) and "Bing Crosby: His Life and Legend" (1978).

Flaum worked with Cousteau for six seasons and 25 films as executive producer and writer of the renowned 1970s "Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" specials, winning documentary Emmys for "A Sound of Dolphins" and "The Unsinkable Sea Otter."

He also served for four seasons as executive producer and writer of the "Jane Goodall and the World of Animal Behavior" series of specials that included "The Wild Dogs of Africa," for which he landed another Emmy.   Continued...