LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cinematographer Allen Daviau, who shot three of Steven Spielberg’s films including “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” has died. A representative from the American Society of Cinematographers said Wednesday that Daviau died Tuesday of complications from COVID-19. He was 77.
A five-time Oscar nominee, Daviau was also behind the camera on “Empire of the Sun,” “Bugsy,” “The Color Purple,” “Avalon” and “Defending Your Life.”
“He will be remembered fondly for his sense of humor, his taste for the best of foods and his laugh that unmistakably marked his presence from far away,” ASC president Kees van Oostrum wrote in an email to members Wednesday.
Born in New Orleans and raised in the Los Angeles area, Daviau said seeing color television at the age of 12 began his fascination with the technology of light and photography, working at camera stores and film labs to hone his skills. He “gate-crashed” the set of Marlon Brando’s “One-Eyed Jacks,” shot early music videos for The Who and Jimi Hendrix and also shot still photography for The Monkees.
He met Spielberg in 1967 and discovered a shared love of movies. Spielberg later said that his 8mm and 16mm films “weren’t doing the trick” to help him break into the business and he started collaborating with Daviau. Together they shot “Amblin” in 1968.
“I don’t know how crazy we are today about our individual work in that film, but I always think of Allen as a terrifically versatile cinematographer,” Spielberg later told American Cinematographer magazine.
They wouldn’t officially work together until years later, with “E.T.” from 1982. Daviau said, “It was the greatest opportunity anyone could ever wish for.” Not only was the film an enormous commercial success, but it earned Daviau his first Academy Award nomination.
He would go on to work with Spielberg many times, including serving as the director of photography on the films “The Color Purple” and “Empire of the Sun,” as well as an episode of the series “Amazing Stories.” He also shot second unit footage on “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”