Docs

Documentarian Mel Stuart passes away at 83

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Mel Stuart (pictured), whose films aired around the world on networks including PBS and the BBC, has passed away at the age of 83.
August 10, 2012

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Mel Stuart (pictured), whose films aired around the world on networks including PBS and the BBC, has passed away at the age of 83.

The New York-born director had been making documentaries since the 1960s, with his 1964 effort Four Days in November – a doc about the assassination of JFK – receiving an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature.

Fellow filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) was among those paying tribute to Stuart on Twitter, praising him as a “great doc maker, supporter and enthusiast.”

Among Stuart’s notable doc efforts were three editions of The Making of the President – covering 1960, 1964 and 1968 – and, for PBS’s ‘American Masters’ strand, portraits of the artist Man Ray and the director Billy Wilder (1997′s Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant Garde and 1998′s Billy Wilder: the Human Comedy respectively).

More recently, his 2005 doc The Hobart Shakespeareans aired on PBS, profiling an inner-city LA teacher whose fifth-grade class performed a play by William Shakespeare each year.

Outside of the doc realm, Stuart was best known for making 1971 children’s classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder; and 1969 comedy If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.

In all, the filmmaker directed or produced more than 180 titles, winning a Peabody, four Emmys and multiple other awards along the way. He also served as president of the International Documentary Association (IDA) for two years.

Stuart died last night (August 9) from cancer at his home in LA, according to his daughter Madeline, who survives him, as do his sons Peter and Andrew.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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