Eugene Gaudio, brother of future ASC member Tony Gaudio, was born in Italy on December 31, 1886. He learned photography in his father’s portrait studio and developed an interest in movies around 1905. After coming to the United States, he served as lab superintendent for IMP and the Life Photo Film Corporation. Arriving in California in 1915, Gaudio came out of the darkroom and went behind the camera for Universal. The best-known of his early efforts as a cinematographer is the 1916 production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He later photographed films for Metro’s top female stars, Alla Nazimova and May Allison. His final work was with actress Bessie Barriscale’s B. B. Features.
Gaudio suffered an acute attack of appendicitis and died on August 1, 1920, from general peritonitis after an operation.
Walter L. Griffin
Little information has turned up about Walter L. Griffin, the most obscure of the ASC’s founders. Griffin started working in pictures in 1912 and spent a year and a half in the lab before he first cranked a camera for Universal. In 1915, he joined the Exposition Players’ Corporation, official cinematographers of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where he headed photographic and lab operations. When the exposition closed in 1916, he spent four months in Colorado, making scenic films for the Denver Tourist Bureau.
Returning to Hollywood, Griffin signed on with the National Film Corporation, where he shot some 25 comedies featuring National’s owner, William “Smiling Bill” Parsons. His best-remembered film is the Lon Chaney vehicle Nomads of the North (1920), which was filmed for the National Film Corporation but was released through the Associated First National Exhibitors Circuit after Parsons’ untimely death caused the NFC to close. Through the early 1920s, Griffin ground out low-budget Westerns starring Bob Custer, Franklyn Farnum and Al Hoxie. In the mid-1920s, he gave up wide-open spaces for the great indoors and shot a number modest melodramas, such as Rose of the Bowery (1927) and The Heart of Broadway (1928). His last known credit as a cinematographer is City of Purple Dreams (1928).
Roy H. Klaffki
Roy Henry Klaffki was born in California on March 6, 1882. He was a cinematographer for a dozen years or more, working in England as well as Hollywood, but in 1922, American Cinematographer reported that “he prefers just now to be identified with the laboratory rather than the camera.” Klaffki would end his career as a technician with the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. He held the title of Director of Photography at Metro Pictures in the early 1920s, shooting films as well as supervising the work of other Metro cinematographers and overseeing quality control in the lab.
Klaffki died on September 20, 1965, of malnutrition resulting from esophageal-tracheal abscesses with complications from pulmonary emphysema.
Charles E. Rosher
Born on November 17, 1885, in London, England, Charles Rosher hoped for a diplomatic career, but his interest in photography led him to apprenticeships with still photographers David Blount and Howard Farmer. In 1908, he became assistant to Richard Speaight, official photographer for the British Crown. Rosher was invited to show his still work at the Eastman School of Photography, and when he came to the States to accompany the exhibit, he brought a Williamson movie camera and started shooting actualities. He was friendly with fellow Englishman David Horsley, who started the Centaur Film Company in the backyard of his Ideal Billiard Parlor in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1907.
In 1910, Horsley offered Rosher a job, and the cinematographer came west with the renamed Nestor Film Company, arriving in Hollywood on October 27, 1911. When Nestor was absorbed by Universal in 1912, Rosher went along. He left in 1913 to shoot footage of Pancho Villa in Mexico, and then returned to Universal briefly before joining the staff of the Lasky Feature Play Company.
Rosher became Mary Pickford’s cinematographer and shot all of her films from How Could You, Jean? (1918) through My Best Girl (1927). Pickford occasionally loaned him out to other producers. One of these loan-outs was for Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (Fox, 1927), which earned Rosher and co-cinematographer Karl Struss the first Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
Rosher fell out with Pickford when he was unwilling to shoot Coquette (1929) with cameras locked down in soundproof “iceboxes.” He had no trouble finding work at other studios, however, and he earned six additional Oscar nominations through the years. With his work on Kismet (1944), Rosher gained a reputation for his color work, and he won the Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography on The Yearling (1946). He retired in 1955 and died in Lisbon, Portugal, on January 15, 1974.