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Charles Guggenheim


GUGGENHEIM, CHARLES (1924–2002), U.S. documentary film producer. Guggenheim was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to German Jewish parents. His father and grandfather were furniture manufacturers. Guggenheim studied agriculture at the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts before joining the U.S. Army in 1943. A foot infection kept him from shipping out overseas with his division, which took heavy losses during the Battle of the Bulge. After World War II, Guggenheim completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa in 1948. After working for CBS Radio in New York, he moved to Chicago and worked behind the scenes for CBS children's shows and then to St. Louis, Missouri, to work in public television. In 1954, he founded his documentary production company, Charles Guggenheim and Associates. After producing the first political commercial aired on television for Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1956, Guggenheim moved his company to Washington, D.C. He produced a variety of campaign ads for political figures, including the Kennedy brothers. The first documentary he directed, A City Decides (1956), earned Guggenheim the first of the 12 Oscar nominations he would receive throughout his career. Guggenheim's Oscar-winning documentaries are Nine from Little Rock (1964), about school desegregation in Arkansas; Robert Kennedy Remembered (1968), shown at the Democratic National Convention weeks after the senator was killed; The Johnstown Flood (1989); and A Time for Justice (1994). Guggenheim's final project was the documentary Berga: Soldiers of Another War (2002), about 350 American soldiers captured in the Battle of the Bulge who were sent to labor camps instead of POW camps because they were Jewish or thought to be Jewish. Guggenheim finished the film a few months before he died of pancreatic cancer in Washington, D.C.

Sources:[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]

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