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Harold Rosson
Rosson with his wife Jean Harlow (1934)
Harold G. Rosson

(1895-04-06)April 6, 1895
DiedSeptember 6, 1988(1988-09-06) (aged 93)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Other namesHal Rosson
Years active1908–1958, 1966
(m. 1924; div. 1926)
(m. 1933; div. 1934)
Yvonne Crellin
(m. 1936; div. 1945)
2 children
RelativesArthur Rosson (brother)
Richard Rosson (brother)
Helene Rosson (sister)

Harold G. "Hal" Rosson, A.S.C. (April 6, 1895 – September 6, 1988) was an American cinematographer who worked during the early and classical Hollywood cinema, in a career spanning some 52 years, starting from the silent era in 1915. He is best known for his work on the fantasy film The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the musical Singin' in the Rain (1952), as well as his marriage to Jean Harlow.[1]


Born in New York City,[1] Rosson came from a film-making family. His older brother Arthur was a successful director as was his other older brother Richard and his younger sister Helene was an actress.[2]


Harold Rosson began his film career in 1908 as an actor at the Vitagraph Studios in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. He became the assistant to Irvin Willat at the Mark Dintenfass Studios. In 1912 he divided his time as an office boy in a stockbrokers firm and as an assistant, extra, and handyman at the Famous Players Studio in New York. His first film for Famous Players was David Harum (1915).

In December 1914, Rosson moved to California and joined Metro Pictures. During World War I, he served in the United States Army. After his demobilization, he went to work on the Marion Davies film The Dark Star. He was offered a contract with the Davies Company. In 1920 he was signed by Mary Pickford working primarily with her brother Jack Pickford. In the 1930s, Rosson signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed the photography for some of the studios most popular films including Treasure Island (1934), The Wizard of Oz (1939), On the Town (1949) and Singin' in the Rain (1952).[1] In 1936, Rosson and fellow cinematographer W. Howard Greene were awarded an Honorary Oscar for the color cinematography of the 1936 David O. Selznick production The Garden of Allah.[3] Rosson later said it was the first time he attempted to film in color.[1]

After a very long and successful career in Hollywood, Rosson retired in 1958. He briefly came out of retirement for the Howard Hawks film El Dorado (1966) starring John Wayne.[4]

Personal life

Rosson was married three times, with all of his marriages ending in divorce, and had 2 children.[1] His first marriage was to actress Nina Byron, which lasted from 1924 to 1926. While shooting the film Bombshell in 1933, actress Jean Harlow proposed to Rosson. They had worked together previously on Red-Headed Woman, Dinner at Eight, Hold Your Man and Red Dust and had struck up a friendship.[5] On September 17, 1933, the couple married in Yuma, Arizona.[6] In an interview with Leicester Wagner, Harlow recalled that she and Rosson grew closer after the death of her second husband, Paul Bern, and he encouraged her to go out and socialize.[7] Rosson and Harlow separated in May 1934 with Harlow charging that Rosson was "rude, sullen and irritable". She was granted a divorce in March 1935.[8]

On October 11, 1936, Rosson married socialite Yvonne Crellin in Beverly Hills.[9] They divorced in June 1945.[10]


On September 6, 1988, Rosson died at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.[3] He is buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[11]

Awards and nominations

Harold Rosson was nominated for five Academy Awards: The Wizard of Oz (1939), Boom Town (1940), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Bad Seed (1956).[1]

Rosson was awarded an Honorary Oscar for the color cinematography of David O. Selznick production The Garden of Allah (1936).[3]

Selected filmography

Short subject




  1. ^ a b c d e f "'Oz' cinematographer dies in Florida at age 93". Boca Raton News. September 9, 1988. p. 2B. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  2. ^ Maltin, Leonard (1978). The Art of the Cinematographer: A Survey and Interviews with Five Masters. Courier Dover Publications. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-486-23686-5.
  3. ^ a b c "Harold G. Rosson, 93, 'Oz' Cinematographer". New York Times. New York City. September 9, 1988.
  4. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2000). Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Grove Press. p. 621. ISBN 0-802-13740-7.
  5. ^ Sragow, Michael (2013). Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 205–206. ISBN 978-0-813-14443-6.
  6. ^ "Jean Harlow Weds Movie Cameraman". Lewiston Evening Journal. September 18, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  7. ^ Harlow, Jean; Wagner, Leicester (December 8, 1934). "Jean Harlow – Her Story". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 1. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  8. ^ "Jean Harlow Is Granted Divorce from Hal Rosson". Ottawa Citizen. March 12, 1934. p. 14. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "Hal Rosson Weds". Berkeley Daily Gazette. October 15, 1936. p. 10. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "Hal Rosson Sued For Divorce". St. Petersburg Times. June 24, 1945. p. 34. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 138. ISBN 0-786-40983-5.