Bob Hawkins, who spent more than 50 years at Variety, leading international coverage in London and New York, covering film festivals, and overseeing Variety‘s Rome office, died Oct. 14 in Rome. He was 93.
Hawkins was one of the first photographers to cover the Cannes Film Festival. He explained in the Variety book “Cannes: Fifty Years of Sun, Sex & Celluloid” that there were just a handful of paparazzi in the 1950s, although the term had yet to be invented by his friend Federico Fellini. The photographers rotated exclusives among themselves, and Hawkins remembered the time Grace Kelly speared him with a metal spike attached to a flower by accident, then granted him an exclusive photo as an apology.
Robert Hawkins was born in Genoa, Italy and attended Princeton U., where he started out writing movie reviews. Fluent in half a dozen languages, his love for film began at an early age when he traveled to the Venice Film Festival with his father before WWII.
During the war, he served with army intelligence in northern France, the Ardennes, at the Battle of the Bulge and in Germany. After graduating from Princeton, he published his first Variety article in 1948 after writing to both Variety editor Abel Green and to New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, offering his services. Both accepted his offer, and he also wrote a monthly “Letter from Rome” about the arts for the New York Times.
Hawkins opened the Rome bureau for Variety in 1954. Under the bylines Hawkeye and Hawk, he wrote numerous reviews of foreign-language films.
His photos appeared in publications including The New York Times, Paris-Match, Picture Post, Illustrated, and in the Sunday Express and Daily Express in Britain.
Hawkins spent the swinging ’60s at Variety‘s London office, first as bureau chief, then as European Editor and Manager. In 1976 he transferred to New York, first serving as International Editor and later Executive V.P.
He moved back to Rome in 1990 to manage Variety’s Italian operations. Hawkins manned the Variety booth at major festivals, notably in Cannes, for many years. He continued to work with Variety until 2004.
In 1995 Hawkins co-authored, with David Rooney, a book-length study of Italian cinema, subtitled “From the Golden Years to the 1990’s,” published by Variety, which included several of his much-prized photographs of personalities such as Ingrid Bergman, Vittorio De Sica, and Alberto Sordi.
He is survived by his wife Rosella and children Christine, Carolyn and Frederick.
(pictured: Hawkins with an unnamed Variety employee)