‘Dog Day Afternoon’ Cinematographer Was 96



Victor J. Kemper, the cinematographer behind “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and other notable films, has died. He was 96.

American Cinematographer, the international publication of the American Society of Cinematographers, confirmed the news of his passing on social media.

One of Kemper’s most prominent films is the biographical crime drama “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino. The film, which tells the true story of a 1972 bank robbery and hostage situation in Brooklyn, was nominated for six Academy Awards and was admitted to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Kemper also had an ongoing collaborative relationship with director Arthur Hiller, working together on films like “The Tiger Makes Out” (1969) and “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (1989). Other prominent directors he worked with include John Cassavetes, Anthony Harvey, Michael Ritchie, Elaine May, J. Lee Thompson and Elia Kazan, among many others.

Kemper was born on April 14, 1927, in Newark, N.J. He graduated from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and got his start in the industry as an assistant working on commercials at EUE Studios in New York City.

Kemper’s extensive career working on feature films spanned from the 1960s to the 2000s. He shot over sixty films including “The Jerk” (1979), “The Final Countdown” (1980), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985), “Clue” (1985) and “Beethoven” (1992).

Kemper was a longtime member of the American Society of Cinematographers, serving twice as the organization’s president. He was also honored with the ASC’s lifetime achievement award in 1998.

Cinematographer/director Richard Crudo, ASC, penned a tribute to his peer upon his passing, writing, “On the most personal of notes, he was one of the sweetest guys you could meet. You haven’t really lived until you’ve spent a night or two enjoying his war stories and absorbing his counsel over a ration of Glenlivet in Billy’s Bar at the ASC Clubhouse.”

Crudo concluded, “He was a great mentor to many, not least of which myself, especially during my early years with the organization. I will always be grateful for his guidance. And now, along with the other giants I’ve been privileged to get to know there, I’ll always miss him, too.”


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