Robert Bernard Altman (1925 - 2006)

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Nicknames: "Bob"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Death: Died in Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death: complications from leukemia
Occupation: Director, screenwriter.
Managed by: Liz B.
Last Updated:
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About Robert Bernard Altman

A Hollywood filmmaker who made non-Hollywood movies, Robert Altman earned five Oscar nominations over his long and independent-minded career. Altman became known for: a meandering narrative, satiric humor, realistic and overlapping dialogue, a big ensemble cast, and not-so-subtle social commentary. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.

He was born on February 20, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Helen (née Matthews), a Mayflower descendant from Nebraska, and Bernard Clement Altman, a wealthy insurance salesman and amateur gambler, who came from an upper-class family. Altman's ancestry was German, English and Irish; his paternal grandfather, Frank Altman, Sr., anglicized the spelling of the family name from "Altmann" to "Altman". Altman had a Catholic upbringing, but he did not continue to practice as a Catholic as an adult. He was educated at Jesuit schools, including Rockhurst High School, in Kansas City.

In 1943 Altman joined the United States Army Air Forces at the age of 18. During World War II, Altman flew more than 50 bombing missions as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator with the 307th Bomb Group in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies.

After serving in World War II as a pilot, he took up writing for radio and magazines, then produced industrial films. His first feature film was The Delinquents (1957), followed by The James Dean Story (1957), a docudrama that mapped out his intentions of using film to explore the harsh reality behind pop culture icons.

From 1957 to 1965, Altman worked in Hollywood on a wide variety of television programs including Combat, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Bonanza; his resistance to conformity, however, delayed his progression into feature filmmaking for another decade. Countdown (1968) and That Cold Day in the Park (1969) garnered some critical attention, but Altman's career took a dramatic turn with M*A*S*H (1970), a box-office and critical smash which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Altman's defining characteristics were already emerging: the episodic structure, the penchant for black comedy, the ability to use a minute and detailed setting (here a medical unit during the Korean War) as a vehicle for broader social concerns. Success led him to expand his own Lion's Gate production company—complete with state-of-the-art editing and sound recording facilities—where the creative process was once described as "controlled chaos."

Altman went on to direct and/or produce a series of highly individualistic films, noted especially for their simultaneous layers of dialogue. Impatient with Hollywood's conservative and commercial approach to film-making, he moved to Europe, although he returned to America to make such films as Nashville (1975), The Player (1991, BAFTA), Short Cuts (1993), Kansas City (1996), Cookie's Fortune (1998), and Dr T and the Women (2000). Gosford Park (2001, Golden Globe Best Director) was his first British film. He received an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 2005 Academy Awards.

Altman died on November 20, 2006. He is survived by his wife Kathryn Reed and five children.

Sources: Starpulse, Wikipedia, infoplease, Biography, Yahoo Movies

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Robert Altman's Timeline

1925
February 20, 1925
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
1946
1946
Age 20
2006
November 20, 2006
Age 81
Los Angeles, California, USA
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