Visual effects pioneer Howard A. Anderson Jr., ASC, worked with Gene Roddenberry in 1964 to create the transporter "beam" and other effects for the fledgling Star Trek series.
Anderson's credits include visual effects for hundreds of films, including such classics as "Heaven Can Wait," "Blazing Saddles," "The Body Snatchers," "Some Like it Hot," the 1960 version of "Godzilla," "Tobruk," "Annie," "Superman" and "Gray Lady Down." He also created titles and visual effects for such memorable television series as I Love Lucy, My Favorite Martian, The Untouchables, The Invaders, Dragnet, The Waltons, The Fugitive, Barnaby Jones and The A-Team.
Anderson traces his roots to the earliest days of the film industry. His father, Howard A. Anderson, was a portrait photographer in Chicago prior to joining the United States Army at the outbreak of World War I. After the elder Anderson was discharged in 1918, he migrated to Los Angeles with the goal of finding a niche in the new motion picture industry. He was hired by Thomas Ince as a still photographer and second cameraman at Culver City Studios. After Ince died in 1924, the studio was taken over by Cecil B. De Mille. Anderson created lightning, storm and flood effects for De Mille's "The King of Kings," one of the last, successful silent movies. He founded the Howard Anderson Special Photographic Effects Company in 1927.
The younger Anderson was still in his pre-teens when he began working part-time for his father's company during the early 1930s. He subsequently studied math at the University of California-Los Angeles, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Before the war, Anderson shot industrial films for Douglas Aircraft. His projects included documenting construction of the first B-19 airplane and the company's public relations film "We Give Them Wings."
He joined his father's company as an optical camera operator during the late 1940s. Anderson worked on the original I Love Lucy show and earned Oscar nominations for creating visual effects for the movies "Tobruk" (1967) and "Jack the Giant Killer" (1962).
He and his brother Darrell began working with Gene Roddenberry two years before the first episode of Star Trek aired. The brothers created starfields and invented a photographic technique that enhanced the illusion of people being "beamed" onto and off the starship Enterprise, and other effects including matte paintings of alien worlds.
Four generations of the Anderson family have worked in the motion picture industry for more than 80 years, spanning the transitions from silent films to "talkies," black-and-white to color, the evolution of television, and the convergence of film and digital technologies.
Biography courtesy of the American Society of Cinematographers
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