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Gerald Finnerman

Gerald Perry Finnerman (1931-2011), was an American cinematographer who had worked on shows such as Moonlighting and Star Trek: The Original Series. He served as vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers, and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Special.

Gerald Finnerman
Gerald Perry Finnerman

(1931-12-17)December 17, 1931
Los Angeles, California
DiedApril 6, 2011(2011-04-06) (aged 79)
Los Angeles
Parent(s)Perry Finnerman (father)


Gerald Finnerman was born on December 17, 1931 in Los Angeles, California.[1] He attended Hollywood High School,[2] and afterwards went to Loyola Marymount University where he majored in abnormal psychology.[3] Finnerman became a combat photographer before joining his father's team at Warner Brothers; Perry Finnerman was a camera operator (later cinematographer) contracted to Warner Brothers. After the death of his father at the age of 56, he began to work with Harry Stradling Sr. at Warner Brothers. Stradling promoted Finnerman from focus puller to operator, and in 1964 the two left together to become freelance.[1]

They worked together for Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures on films such as Walk, Don't Run starring Cary Grant, and the Jack Lemmon movie How to Murder Your Wife.[1] Finnerman was Stradling's camera operator when he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for My Fair Lady.[3] Stradling recommended him as a cinematographer to Desilu Productions for their new science fiction series, Star Trek after Harry Stradling Jr. turned down the role.[3]

He was subsequently hired, and at the age of 32 was one of the youngest cinematographers in Hollywood.[1] He later said that "On a show like Star Trek, you have to push the envelope, the result of playing it safe is a diet of pabulum."[1] He used light placements and colored gels as mood lighting. Using lighting techniques and changing background wall colors, he discovered that a range of effects could be seen on a single set.[1] One enhancement he made on the set was to the effects for the transporter, he explained, "I put fixtures in the bottom and fixtures in the top and they would stand on them. Then I would have somebody on a dimmer work the visual, the special effect of light going on and off and then they would zap them."[4]

He worked on Star Trek through most of the three-year run of the series, and afterwards moved on to Mission: Impossible, another Paramount (and former Desilu) production. He worked on The Lost Man starring Sidney Poitier. In 1969 he was on board a plane with other crew to scout out locations in Colorado. The plane crashed,[5] and Finnerman was the sole survivor. The injuries he suffered in the crash resulted in him being required to wear a metal full body brace for the following six years.[1] He joined the American Society of Cinematographers in 1970 after being nominated by Stradling. He went on to become vice president of the society.[1]

During the 1970s and 1980s he earned Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work on Kojak, From Here to Eternity and The Gangster Chronicles. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Special for his work on the television film Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women.[1] In 1985, he began to work on Moonlighting, for which he gained two further Emmy nominations.[1] The creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, invited Finnerman to join the team putting together Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1986, but he turned down the offer.[2] In 1996 he was inducted into the Producers Guild Hall of Fame for his work on Star Trek,[1] and he was nominated by the Motion Picture & Television Fund for "Philanthropic Man of the Year".[2] He announced his retirement in 2002.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Witmer, Jon D. (July 2011). "In Memoriam: Gerald Perry Finnerman, ASC, 1931-2011". American Cinematographer. 92 (7). Retrieved February 8, 2013. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c "Gerald Finnerman, Cinematographer for Star Trek, Many Other Series". Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Winship, Michael (1988). Television. New York: Random House. pp. 304–312. ISBN 9780394564012.
  4. ^ "Noted Cinematographer Gerald Perry Finnerman has Died". Archive of American Television. April 8, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  5. ^ "NTSB Identification: DEN70A0004". National Transportation Safety Board. NTSB. Retrieved 1 July 2017.

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