Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Bobby Byrne, ASC, 1932-2017

Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Bobby Byrne, ASC, 1932-2017

Article excerpt

Robert "Bobby" Byrne, Ab(_ - whose credits included the features Blue Collar, Sixteen Candles and Bull Durham - died on March 9, 2017. He was 85.

Byrne was born in 1932 in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. Recounting his early forays in the motion-picture industry, he told fellow ASC member Jon Fauer for the documentary Cinematographer Style, "I went through a long process of learning various types of camerawork. I did still camerawork, I worked in still labs, I shot architectural and fashion work, and got in the I.A. shooting animation for Jack Buehre at Anicam in Hollywood."

Transitioning to live action as a camera assistant, Byrne worked as a focus puller for Conrad L. Hall, ASC on the epic Western The Professionals, and for William A. Fraker, ASC on the musical Paint Your Wagon. He continued to work as an assistant until Fraker promoted him to camera operator on his directorial debut, Monte Walsh, in 1970. Byrne continued as an operator for more than 20 projects, including Alex in Wonderland, What's Up, Doc?, The King of Marvin Gardens, Paper Moon, For Pete's Sake, The Yakuza, At Long Last Love, Baby Blue Marine, Nickelodeon and New York, New York.

"After many years as an assistant and operator," Byrne told Fauer, "my big break came when Burt Reynolds and [director] Hal Needham offered me Smokey and the Bandit, my first film as a [cinematographer], ... Hal and Burt were patient with me, and we had a lot of fun making the picture. The cast was great and the picture was a big success."

Byrne reteamed with Needham for Hooper and The Villain, and he was behind the camera for Reynolds' directorial effort The End. The cinematographer also parlayed his early success into a steady stream of feature credits that included First Love, directed by Joan Darling; Blue Collar, by Paul Schrader; California Dreaming, by John Hancock; Walk Proud, by Robert Collins; Chilly Scenes of Winter, by Joan Micklin Silver; Those Lips, Those Eyes, by Michael Pressman; Paternity and Going Berserk, both by David Steinberg; Things Are Tough All Over, by Thomas K. Avildsen; Sixteen Candles, by John Hughes; Bull Durham, by Ron Shelton; Stealing Home, by Steven Kampmann and Will Aldis; The Lemon Sisters, by Joyce Chopra; and This Is My Life, by Nora Ephron.

A number of the directors with whom Byrne worked were making a feature for the first time, and the cinematographer prided himself on standing firmly in their corner and doing all he could to help them succeed. …

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