Leonard J. South


Cinematographer Leonard J. South, who shot nearly a dozen Alfred Hitchcock films including “North by Northwest” and “The Birds,” died Jan. 6 in Northridge, Calif. He was 92.

Born on Long Island, N.Y., in 1913, South moved to Los Angeles in his early 20s. He launched his film career as a camera loader in the Warner Bros. special-effects department in the early 1940s and made training films as a member of the Army Air Forces during World War II.

South began his association with Hitchcock as cinematographer Robert Burks’ camera assistant on the 1951 film “Strangers on a Train.”

In addition to “North by Northwest” and “The Birds,” South worked on Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window,” “To Catch a Thief,” “The Trouble With Harry,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “Vertigo,” “Marnie” and “Torn Curtain.”

He was behind the camera for many famous Hitchcock sequences, including Cary Grant’s evasion of a menacing crop-duster in “North by Northwest” and a flock of crows attacking Tippi Hedren in “The Birds.”

South worked on numerous other pictures, including “Hondo,” “Houseboat,” “Teacher’s Pet,” and “The Cincinnati Kid.”

After advancing to cinematographer in the mid-1960s, he was the director of photography on films including “Hang ‘Em High” and “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.”

He also worked on many TV movies and series, including “That Girl,” “Night Gallery,” “The Rockford Files,” “9 to 5,” “Designing Women” and “Coach.”

South teamed with Hitchcock for the director’s final film, the 1976 comedy-thriller “Family Plot.”

A former member of the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he also was a longtime board member of the American Society of Cinematographers, for which he served as president in 1989-90.

He is survived by a son, film editor Leonard South II, daughters Linda South and Anne Marie Giansen; three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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