Robert Gottschalk bigraphy, stories - Inventors

Robert Gottschalk : biography

12 March 1918 - 3 June 1982

Robert Gottschalk (12 March 1918 – 3 June 1982) was an American camera technician and founder of Panavision.

Early life

His father, Gustav, was an architect who built a number of hotels in Chicago, Illinois, where he lived with his wife, Anna. Gustav's success left the family well-off financially and influenced Gottschalk's interest in film. After Gottschalk graduated with a degree in theater and arts from Carleton College in Minnesota, he moved to California to become a filmmaker.


He bought an interest in a camera shop and later got to know a nearby outfit that made underwater filming equipment for Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Equipment restrictions at the time made wide-angle filming difficult, and Gottschalk began experimenting with anamorphic lens equipment patented by Henri Chrétien. In 1953, the CinemaScope process, based on Chrétien's patents, was purchased and named by 20th Century Fox. While the camera lenses were now available, the process required projection lenses as well. Gottschalk teamed up with several colleagues and began offering projection lenses under the name Panavision, which used prismatic rather than cylindrical optics. This led to a successful expansion into lenses for cameras which are still widely used.Bijl, Adriaan. The Importance of Panavision: "The Invention Phase". Reprinted by permission in The 70mm Newsletter. March 2002. URL: Accessed: 2011-10-02. (Archived by WebCite® at

Gottschalk was a two time Academy Award winner. His first award was a Special Technical Oscar, awarded in 1960 for the development of the MGM Camera 65 widescreen photographic system. He shared the Oscar with MGM executive Douglas Shearer and Panavision co-founder John R. Moore.Finler, Joel W. The Hollywood Story. New York: Wallflower, 2003, p. 151. He received an Academy Award of Merit in 1978 for developing the Panaflex camera.Kaplan, Mike. Variety Who's Who in Show Business. New York: Garland, 1983, p. 127.


Gottschalk was found in his Los Angeles home stabbed to death in 1982. Gottschalk's male lover, Laos Chuman, was convicted of his murder and sentenced in July 1983 to 26 years to life in prison. Gottschalk was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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