Richard Glickman, Engineer and Fog Machine Designer, Dies at 91

Richard Bruce Glickman, an expert in lighting for film, television, and stage and designer of the industry standard fog machine, died on Feb. 18 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 91.

He was born in New York in 1926 and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a child. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA and began working in rocket science, oil refining, and gas-pilot safety, and became chief engineer of ColorTran Industries in 1959, where he directed innovations in the field of lighting equipment.

In 1965, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave an award to Glickman and two colleagues for advancements in the design and application to motion picture photography of lighting units using quartz iodine lamps. He wrote and presented numerous technical papers for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

In 1971, Glickman went into business for himself, serving as technical consultant to Robert Hagel, president of the Burbank Studios. While consulting for Rosco Laboratories, he played a lead role in conceiving and designing a theatrical fog machine that became the industry standard. He independently developed a light meter specifically for cinematographers and designed, manufactured, and marketed a line of studio electrical connectors called Stage Connectors.

Glickman was an active member of the Motion Picture Academy’s Scientific and Technical Committee, working on safety issues and advocating for the recognition and inclusion of the industry’s scientific and technical community as a formal branch of the Academy. In 2003, the Academy honored him with the  John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation and in 2011, the Academy designated him a Science Fellow.

“It’s all mechanical engineering,” Glickman once said. “The first thing you do is try to decide what it is you need to do and then you kind of wrap things around it… Each thing was its own solution to a problem.”

He provided the materials for the Richard B. Glickman collection at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, consisting of journals, manuals, and other technical materials from 1961-85. Glickman also had a love of classical music, opera, and the operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan and collected political cartoons.

Glickman is survived by his widow, Harriet, his wife of 68 years; daughter Katherine Moore-MacMillan; sons Paul and Simon; daughters-in-law Janetta Yanez and Julia Rubiner; and grandsons Jesse, Jonah, and Caleb. The family will hold a memorial service on May 12.

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