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John A. Alonzo

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John A Alonzo

John A. Alonzo in 1994

John A. Alonzo, A.S.C. (born Juan Alonzo) (12 June 193413 March 2001; age 66) was an Academy Award-nominated, Emmy Award-winning American cinematographer from Dallas, Texas who worked as Director of Photography on Star Trek Generations. In a career spanning nearly 35 years, Alonzo was a pioneer of hand held and high definition camera work. Alonzo was interviewed on the special feature "Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire" on the Star Trek Generations (Special Edition) DVD.

Alonzo began his career in show business as a camera pusher, camera operator, and director for a local NBC-affiliated Dallas television network. After moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1956, he hosted a short-lived children's show; with that show's cancellation, he turned to acting. He received roles on such television series as Dragnet, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, and The Wild Wild West. He also appeared in a few feature films, most notably the 1960 Western classic The Magnificent Seven, which also featured Whit Bissell and Joseph Ruskin.

In the mid-1960s, Alonzo began doing camera work for TV documentaries. In 1969, producer/director Roger Corman gave Alonzo his first feature film credit as a Director of Photography, the crime drama Bloody Mama. Five years later, Alonzo received his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography for his work in Roman Polanski's acclaimed mystery, Chinatown. Among the other Star Trek alumni associated with this film are actors Perry Lopez, Roy Jenson, and Noble Willingham, composer Jerry Goldsmith and stuntman Hal Needham.

Alonzo was the cinematographer of over fifty other feature films. Prominent among these are Harold and Maude (1971, featuring Ellen Geer and costumes by William Ware Theiss), The Fortune (1975, featuring Ian Wolfe) for Mike Nichols, The Bad News Bears (1976), Blue Thunder (1983, starring Malcolm McDowell), and Scarface (1983, featuring F. Murray Abraham and Harris Yulin). In addition, Alonzo frequently worked with director Martin Ritt; their collaborations include Sounder (1972, starring Paul Winfield), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972, featuring Rene Auberjonois and Whit Bissell), Conrack (1974, starring Paul Winfield, Madge Sinclair, and Tige Andrews), the acclaimed Norma Rae (1979, featuring Gail Strickland and Noble Willingham), and Cross Creek (1983, featuring Alfre Woodard and Malcolm McDowell). Besides Generations, more recent film credits include Steel Magnolias (1989, featuring Bibi Besch), HouseSitter (1992), and The Grass Harp (1995).

In addition to his film credits, Alonzo has worked as cinematographer on several made-for-TV movies, including 1988's Roots: The Gift (starring Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Tim Russ) and World War II: When Lions Roared (1994, directed by Joseph Sargent and featuring Ed Begley, Jr.). Alonzo earned his first Emmy Award nomination for his work on this latter project, and received a second nomination for 1998's Lansky. He earned a third Emmy Award, and his first win, for his lighting direction in the 2000 TV movie Fail Safe (starring James Cromwell).

Alonzo died of natural causes in Beverly Hills, California, in 2001. He was 66 years old. The last project he worked, the 2002 film Deuces Wild, was dedicated to his memory.

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