Was influential member of NYU faculty
Film historian Robert Sklar, a mainstay of NYU’s Dept. of Cinema Studies since 1977 and the author of “Movie-Made America,” a key work in the field, died on Saturday, July 2, in Barcelona of brain damage sustained in a cycling accident a week earlier while he was on vacation in Spain. He was 74.
As the author of “Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies,” first published in 1975, Sklar was “the film scholar most responsible for the current narrative of Hollywood history, theorizing movies as a cultural form that developed from the bottom up,” J. Hoberman wrote in the Village Voice.
“Bob brought an historian’s breadth and insight to understanding the social forces that shape the emergence and transformation of media and sought to convey in his writing the possibilities and promise of film as a medium of social change,” Richard Allen, chairman of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts cinema studies department, wrote in a tribute on the university’s website.
He influenced not only a multitude of students at NYU over more than a generation but many thousands who continue to read the book.
Sklar received his B.A. at Princeton and was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times before heading off to Harvard, where he earned a Ph.D in the history of American civilization in 1965. He was a professor of history at the U. of Michigan before moving to NYU.
Sklar was an editor at Cineaste magazine and Temple University Press; a member of the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board and a founder of the Program in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at NYU; a past president of the Society for Cinema Studies; and a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships.
His other books included “Prime-Time America: Life on and Behind the Television Screen” (1980), “City Boys: Cagney, Bogart, Garfield” (1992), “Film: An International History of the Medium” and “A World History of Film.” He was co-editor on a book set for publication later this year: “Global Neorealism: The Transnational History of a Film Style.”
Sklar retired from the NYU faculty in 2009.
Survivors include Sklar’s wife, Adrienne Harris.