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Documaker Flaum dies

He pioneered the art of using music in his projects

Documentary pioneer Marshall Flaum, who was Oscar-nommed for “The Yanks Are Coming” and “Let My People Go,” died Oct. 1 in Los Angeles of complications from hip surgery. He was 85.

In the “The Yanks Are Coming” he integrated popular music of the time with stock footage of WWI, one of the first documakers to do so. The Wolper production earned a doc nomination in 1963. “Let My People Go: The Story of Israel,” about the plight of the Jews, earned an Oscar nom in 1965 and won the Peabody.

Flaum, a writer-director-producer, collaborated with Jacques Cousteau, David Wolper, Jane Goodall and Jack Haley Jr. on such subjects as Lyndon Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and the duke and duchess of Windsor.

After serving in the Army in WWII, Marshall studied acting at the U. of Iowa. He headed to Broadway and appeared in 1950’s “Julius Caesar,” Basil Rathbone, and Olivia de Havilland in a 1951 staging of “Romeo and Juliet” while studying acting with Lee Strasberg.

In 1957 he segued to CBS where he worked for the next six years as writer, story editor and associate producer on the Walter Cronkite doc series, “The Twentith Century.” And from there, like many other young filmmakers he went to work for David L. Wolper Prods.

His love of classic films was evident in such projects as “Hollywood: The Great Stars,” in which he collaborated with Haley, along with “Hollywood: The Selznik Years,” “Bogart” and “Bing Crosby: His Life and Legend.” His teaming with Cousteau led to the Emmy-winning spesh “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”

Through a 55-year career in showbiz Flaum’s work was entertaining whether the subject was nature like “Natural History of Our World: The Time of Man” or toons as in “A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera.”

Flaum won five Emmys, two Peabodys and a Venice Silver Lion. He was nominated for was nommed for two Oscars and 16 Emmys as producer, writer or director.

He was a member of the Acad’s documentary branch, the Writers Guild and the Directors Guild.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Gita; a daughter Erica and son Seth, both film editors; two grandchildren; and a sister.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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