Edward Ullman, Pioneer Cinematographer; Now a Forgotten Man.

Edward Ullman Motion Picture News Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual 1920

Edward Goldsmith Ullman

 

Edward Goldsmith Ullman is not only a truly fascinating constituent of Hollywood, but mostly an overlooked and forgotten member of the Tinseltown community; Edward G. Ullman, was born on July 3, either in 1867, 1869 or 1874 (because of different statements in the federal census and his California death record, I am unable to determine which date is correct), in Natchez, Mississippi,[1] and he died on February 8, 1940,[2] in Hollywood.

Ullman began as a photographer in a wide range of work,[3] but then in 1904, he entered into the moving picture business.[4] There is no record of the works he was involved with prior to 1911 and much of the information between 1911 and 1914 is spotty, at best, suffice it to say, he was a pioneer of the industry. He was employed by the Reliance Motion Picture Corporation in 1910, and then was with the Majestic Motion Picture Company when the firm first opened its doors in 1911.[5] Ullman started with Universal in 1913, and by no later than July of 1916, he was appointed manager of the cameramen at the Big U.[6]

Edward Ullman was the first president (an office which he held until March of 1916[7]) of The Static Club of America (chartered in April of 1913[8]), located in Los Angeles; the club’s membership was limited to active cameramen and a Static Club (in 1917 the name was changed to Cinema Camera Club of California[9]) priority was to see the names of cameramen included in film credits.[10] The Static Club was the first of the Los Angeles film-colony organizations.[11]

As is to be expected, a rather large  number of titles are absent from what modern references there are of Mr. Ullman; because of time passed and the fact that the cinematographer was often left off of the credits, therefore, much of E. G. Ullman’s résumé is permanently lost to us. What follows is the best reconstruction of data relating to those missing portions of his career, and I am very sure it is but a small sample of his work in more than twenty-years as a cameraman-cinematographer…

In 1911, Ullman photographed the film, As in a Looking Glass, for the Biograph Company, the picture was directed by D. W. Griffith.[12] In 1914, he did the camerawork for, Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery, with Francis Ford and Grace Cunard; this was the first serial by Universal.[13] As well, in 1914, Ullman was one of the cameramen for, Let Us Have Peace,[14] a Rex Motion Picture Company production and distributed by Universal. Then once again, Ullman photographed for Francis Ford and Grace Cunard, in The Purple Mask, 1916.[15] In late 1917, Ullman worked as superintendent of photography with director Ida May Park on the film, The Grand Passion (the working title was The Boss of Powderville),[16] Grand Passion was released in February of 1918; also in 1918, he worked on, Out of the Night,[17] evidently Ullman acted only as the cameraman for this picture.[18] But for, A Society Sensation,[19] William S. Cooper is mistakenly credited as cinematographer, while the recognition belongs to Edward Ullman; this movie was also produced in 1918.

In 1919, Mr. Ullman photographed, Two A.M., for the Christie Film Company.[20] Then he followed up with, Back from the Front, and, A Home Spun Hero, in 1920, and the next title omitted from his work-history was, Hey Rube, in 1921, each of these films were for the Christie Company.[21] February of 1926 saw the premier of, The Winking Idol, another Universal serial, directed by Francis Ford, with Ullman providing the photography.[22] In December of 1927, Ullman was photographing, Home James, starring Laura La Plante; the movie premiered in September of 1928.[23]

1929 found, Ullman back in New York, not as photographer but working for the New York Life Insurance Company.[24] By 1930, Edward G. Ullman was no longer listed amongst the leaders of his field; instead he was a part of the Second Cameramen, of the Local 659 members of the western states.[25]

Edward Goldsmith Ullman, a career filled with firsts, a leader in film-photography-experimentation[26] and at a particular time in celluloid history a respected pioneer of Hollywood; now another film-making name lost in obscurity.

internationalpho02holl_0566

 

By C. S. Williams

 

 

[1] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1916

[2] International Photographer, March, 1940

[3] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1921

[4] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1916

[5] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1916

[6] Motion Picture News, July 27, 1916

[7] International Photographer, July, 1930

[8] International Photographer, October, 1935

[9] International Photographer, October, 1935

[10]  Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1916

Motion Picture News, April 17, 1915

The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry, by Anthony Slide, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998

[11] Motion Picture News, March 10, 1917

[12] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1916

[13] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1916

[14] Motion Picture News, September 19, 1914

[15] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1918

[16] Moving Picture World, October 27, 1917

[17] Film Daily, June 7, 1925

[18] Film Daily, November 17, 1918

[19] Film Daily, October 6, 1918; June 7, 1925

[20] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1920

[21] Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, October 21, 1921

[22] Motion Picture News, March 20, 1926

[23] Film Daily, December 16, 1927

[24] The International Photographer, April, 1929

[25] The International Photographer, June, 1930

[26] The International Photographer, April, 1934

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