Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RIP George Courtney Ward

Celebrity photographer, 93 dies at his Dorset home

Saturday 26th February 2011

He may not be a household name himself, but photographer George Courtney Ward worked with some legends in his time.

George, who died at his home in Westbourne on Tuesday, February 15, aged 93, photographed some of the most famous names in cinema during his 30 years working at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Alec Guinness and Kenneth More were just some of the screen stars in George’s portfolio.

He was understood to be a good friend of Lord Attenborough and worked on some of the best-loved British films, including Oliver Twist in 1948, This Sporting Life in 1963 and Great Expectations in 1946, and also designed the artwork for Brief Encounter.

George was born in Christchurch in 1917 and grew up in the town before becoming a stills photographer at Pinewood.

At first he commuted, but shortly moved to Fulmer in Buckinghamshire with his mother and aunt.

After more than 30 years working at Pinewood, George moved to Elstree studios in 1969 when the photographic department was closed down.

But when that studio was taken over in 1972, he decided to sell his house, retire and move back down to Bournemouth.

George had no close family, but his dearest friend, John Smith, remembers him as his “second father”.

The pair met while they were both working in the photographic department at Elstree.

“He was a very independent man and he had a great love of music,” remembers John, who would visit George regularly and phone him almost every day.

“He had a wonderful knowledge of music, going back to the 1930 and 1940s, and musical films, he had a great love of that as well. One of his idols was Dick Powell.”

John, who lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Beryl, added: “He was a wonderful listener with a great sense of humour.

“He was a like a father to my wife and my son and he treated me as his own son because he really didn’t have any close family.

“He was a wonderful man, totally respected in the industry. He made a lot of friends, everybody loved him, he was very, very warm.

“I learnt a lot from him. I’ve lost a great friend and really a second father.”

George’s funeral takes place at 12pm on Tuesday March 8 Bournemouth Crematorium.

WARD, George Courtney
Born: 1917 Christchurch, Dorset, England, U.K.
Died: 2/15/2011 Westbourne, Dorset, England, U.K.
 
George Courtney Ward's western - still photographer:
The Singer Not the Song - 1961

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