John Bailey, the cinematographer for numerous high-profile movies like As Good as It Gets, Groundhog Day, Ordinary People, and many more, passed away on Friday. He served two “tough” years as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 81 years old.
Oscar-nominated film editor Carol Littleton (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) said that her husband, Bailey, passed away in Los Angeles.
”It is with deep sadness I share with you that my best friend and husband, John Bailey, passed away peacefully in his sleep early this morning,” she said in a statement. “During John’s illness, we reminisced how we met 60 years ago and were married for 51 of those years. We shared a wonderful life of adventure in film and made many long-lasting friendships along the way. John will forever live in my heart.” they worked on more than a dozen features together.
The native of Southern California In addition to working with Lawrence Kasdan on The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985), The Accidental Tourist (1988), and Wyatt Earp (1994), Bailey was director of photography for director Paul Schrader on American Gigolo (1980), Cat People (1982), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), Light of Day (1987), and Forever Mine (1999).
Working with him on six films, including Vibes (1988), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005), License to Wed (2007), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Big Miracle (2012), and A Walk in the Woods (2015), where he reteamed with director Robert Redford of Ordinary People, was another fruitful relationship he had with Ken Kwapis.
Bailey also produced the films Continental Divide (1981) by Michael Apted, The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) by Stuart Rosenberg, In the Line of Fire (1993) by Wolfgang Petersen, Nobody’s Fool (1994) by Robert Benton, For Love of the Game (1999) by Sam Raimi, and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) by Callie Khouri.
In a 2020 interview with American Cinematographer magazine, Bailey stated that he had “a singular focus on the kinds of films I wanted to make, even from the time I was an assistant and [camera] operator” and that his philosophy was “imbued with an international perspective”—The Conformist (1970), directed by Vittorio Storaro, was one of his touchstone films.
“I did not want to do tawdry films,” he added. “I did not want to do exploitive films or violent ones. I really held out, sometimes at great personal expense, literally, in terms of money, to do films that I knew were building a résumé that when I did become a director of photography, that was part of who I was.”