Billy, who belonged to both the American Society of Cinematographers and the British Society of Cinematographers, was a uniquely talented human being. He compiled more than 50 narrative film credits as a cinematographer. There were Oscar® nominations for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1978), Heaven Can Wait
The story of his life and career is like a script for a feel-good Hollywood movie. His grandmother was a teacher in Mexico when a brutal revolution brought Pancho Villa to power in 1910. Employees of the former government, including teachers, were on the “enemies list” and were targets for arrest and assassination. Billy’s grandmother left Mazatlan on foot with two mules carrying her two children. They made a long and dangerous journey to the border, and entered California as illegal immigrants. Fortunately this was not the Arizona of 2010!
Billy’s grandmother made a new life for herself and her children in the U.S. They lived in a cottage near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Hollywood. His grandmother supported her family by working as a portrait photographer in downtown Los Angeles. Billy’s mother was 16 and his father was 18 when they met and married. His grandmother taught Billy’s father (who later became a publicity photographer for Columbia Pictures) the art and craft of photography. Billy had vivid memories of seeing portraits that his father took of Golden Era Hollywood stars like Anna May Wong, John Wayne and Barbara Stanwyck.
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