Gordon Parks, Influential Director And Photojournalist, Dead At 93

by | March 8, 2006 | Comments

Gordon Parks, one of the 20th Century’s greatest photojournalists and an influential filmmaker, died Tuesday at 93. Parks’ films, most notably "The Learning Tree" (1969) and "Shaft" (1971), helped to open doors for not only African American directors but more nuanced portrayals of blacks onscreen.

In addition, Parks was a novelist, composer, and co-founder of Essence magazine. Parks was the first African American staff photographer for Life Magazine, where he worked from 1948 to 1972. His work is marked by the stark realism of his images of African American life, as well as his portraits of everyone from Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Ingrid Bergman.

Parks’ first film, "The Learning Tree," was adapted from his own semi-autobiographical novel, based upon his formative years in Kansas. Parks wrote, directed, shot and scored the film, which was a critical success.

His second film, "Shaft," is probably his best known cinematic effort. The story of a too-cool private eye (played by Richard Roundtree), the film featured the iconic, Oscar-winning theme song by Isaac Hayes and is cited as a key early work in the "Blaxploitation" genre. (Parks’ son, Gordon Parks Jr., was also a filmmaker of note; he directed "Superfly" and "Three The Hard Way" before his untimely death in a plane crash in 1979.)

Tag Cloud

SDCC Toys El Rey IFC biography 2016 singing competition Crackle The CW Star Wars serial killer Summer TCM Election Freeform Grammys Amazon sitcom GLAAD police drama MSNBC Pirates Writers Guild of America USA TIFF Nominations cooking politics Ghostbusters MTV Drama 2015 Disney Character Guide AMC comiccon discovery cinemax Certified Fresh E! Podcast Hulu WGN science fiction Syfy vampires based on movie Mystery BBC America Reality Tumblr Adult Swim Lifetime Nat Geo Sundance Disney Channel SundanceTV Netflix Watching Series Extras TBS Set visit Fall TV Bravo Star Trek OWN Trivia FOX Masterpiece HBO Starz TruTV Lionsgate CNN TV Land ABC Family war Interview VICE Food Network docudrama Thanksgiving sports Oscars Showtime Cartoon Network Premiere Dates Super Bowl President period drama Biopics diversity ITV Winter TV Marvel CBS boxoffice Musicals Action Photos DC Comics Opinion TV aliens Tomatazos Comic Book Rock Teen Fox News 24 frames Comedy Best and Worst Fantasy 2017 Spring TV RT History Animation technology Year in Review DirecTV CBS All Access travel Schedule American Society of Cinematographers FX Horror Holidays Trailer crime drama Nickelodeon Country ABC Valentine's Day Countdown NBC First Look Sneak Peek Cosplay Music BET Kids & Family Rocky Marathons Emmys Reality Competition GoT crime thriller Mary Tyler Moore X-Men LGBTQ A&E Pop GIFs Comedy Central VH1 social media PBS thriller PaleyFest TCA 2017 Video Games Rom-Com Awards Infographic TNT History Box Office Universal NYCC ESPN Sci-Fi BBC dramedy TCA FXX Martial Arts cops Red Carpet harry potter APB Esquire Logo Exclusive Video Superheroes Polls and Games 007 CMT Calendar Winners adventure