Bert I. Gordon, an American filmmaker whose low-budget creature features brought super-sized monsters to drive-in cinemas in the mid-20th century, died Wednesday in Los Angeles after collapsing at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 100.
Gordon’s death was confirmed to the New York Times by his daughter, Patricia.
In Atomic Age America, Gordon’s science-fiction B movies manifested the country’s nuclear anxieties as eye-popping apocalypse spectacles. Mostly working under shooting schedules that could total to two weeks and change at most, Gordon produced, directed and wrote more than 25 features over a career spanning six decades, including striking titles like “Village of the Giants” (1965), “How to Succeed With Sex” (1970) and “Empire of the Ants” (1977). His films “Necromancy” (1972)” and “The Food of the Gods” (1976) featured Orson Welles and Ida Lupino, respectively.
As with many cult filmmakers, Gordon’s work was largely met with negative reviews and so-so commercial success before a deeper critical appreciation emerged in the following decades.
Gordon was also a celebrated visual effects artists, known for his technique of using rear-projection to create colossal rats, bugs, chickens and even teenagers.
Born on Sept. 24, 1922 in Kenosha, Wis., Gordon was gifted a 16-millimeter movie camera at a young age. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and dropping out to join the Army Air Forces during World War II, Gordon married Flora Lang, who would become a frequent collaborator on his features. The two had three daughters, Patricia, Susan and Carol, before divorcing in 1979.
Gordon worked as a production assistant on the CBS series “Racket Squad” during the 1950s, before becoming a producer, cinematographer and supervising editor on the series “Serpent Island.”
In 1980, Gordon married Eva Marie Marklstorfer. The two had a daughter, Christina.
Gordon also penned a memoir, “The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G.: An Autobiographical Journey,” which was published in 2010.
Gordon is survived by his wife, Eva Marie; their daughter, Christina; and his daughters, Patricia and Carol. His daughter, Susan, died in 2011.