Cuckoo's Nest cameraman Haskell Wexler dies at 93

This undated handout family photo shows Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who died on Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 aged 93, his family said.
This undated handout family photo shows Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who died on Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 aged 93, his family said. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, whose film credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and American Graffiti, died on Sunday (Dec 27) aged 93, his family said.

In a Hollywood career spanning half a century, Wexler worked with some of the biggest names in movie history, from Elia Kazan to George Lucas, Mike Nichols and Milos Forman.

Mr Jeff Wexler, his eldest child, said his father had died of old age, at a hospital in Santa Monica, California.

"My father has died, peacefully in his sleep," Mr Wexler told AFP in an e-mail. He is survived by his wife Rita Taggart, and his three children.

Wexler's personal blog confirmed his passing by posting a simple photograph, captioned with the dates: February 6, 1922 - December 27, 2015.

A native of Chicago, Wexler served as a merchant seaman in World War II, before returning home to strike out in the world of cinema, according to a biography on his website.

After a failed attempt to set up a film studio in a refurbished armory in Illinois, he began working as a cameraman - eventually rising to the role of cinematographer.

He won two Oscars for his cinematography: in 1966 for Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and in 1976 for Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory. He also created the distinctive look of Lucas' American Graffiti (1973) and Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).

An outspoken liberal, Wexler was also a well-known social documentarian who took home an Oscar in 1970 for the short documentary Interview With My Lai Veterans, directed with Richard Pearce, about the massacre of hundreds of civilians by US troops during the Vietnam War.