Don Peterman, the cinematographer who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, has passed away at the age of 79. The two-time Oscar nominee died of complications from leukemia at his home in Palos Verdes Estates on February 5th. See below for more on Peterman and his career. [UPDATE: Leonard Nimoy has made a comment on Peterman’s passing]
UPDATE: Nimoy offers his condolences
On Tuesday Leonard Nimoy, director of Star Trek IV, offered the following via Twitter:
sorry to hear Don Peterman has passed away. Oscar nominee for cinematography Star Trek IV. A gentleman and a talent. My best to family
Don Peterman – New To Trek For The Voyage Home
For Star Trek IV director Leonard Nimoy chose Don Peterman as the film’s Director of Photography (DP) for his distinctive approach and his commitment to delivering the look they wanted for the film, which required more location shooting than previous Star Trek films. Voyage Home was the only Trek production Peterman worked on, but it yielded him the second of two Academy Award nominations. To date, Peterman is the only person to earned an Oscar nomination as cinematographer of a Star Trek production. The film also earned Peterman a nomination from the very first American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards in 1987.
Trailer for Star Trek IV – a film which earned Don Peterman an Oscar nomination
Don Peterman – Life and career
Peterman was born in Los Angeles on January 3, 1932, and began his career as a film loader at Hal Roach Studios. In 1966, he became a camera operator under cinematographer Charles F. Wheeler, who, coincidentally, later provided additional photography on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. His first feature film as Director of Photography was the 1979 horror-thriller When a Stranger Calls. He earned his first Oscar nomination as DP of the 1983 hit Flashdance, which led to his becoming a member of the ASC in 1984.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Peterman directed photography on many popular feature films, many of which were of the sci-fi or fantasy genres. In the ’80s, director Ron Howard utilized his talents on the romantic-comedy fantasy Splash, the sci-fi film Cocoon, and the crime drama Gung Ho. In the ’90s, he was Barry Snonnefeld’s DP on horror-comedy Addams Family Values, crime comedy Get Shorty, and the sci-fi hit Men in Black. His many other credits as DP include Best Defense, Plains, Trains & Automobiles, and Point Break.
While working on 1998’s Mighty Joe Young, Peterman was injured when a camera crane snapped and the platform carrying the camera and its operator landed on top of him. (Incidentally, the camera operator who fell on him, Ray De La Motte, also worked on the DS9 episode “The Siege of AR-558.”) After rehabilitation, Peterman reteamed with Ron Howard on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though his prior injuries made the shoot difficult. It was his final film.
Further reading: “The Fourth Trek” articles, American Cinematographer, Vol. 67, December 1986