The director of Go Ask Alice and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was the inspiration for Coppola and George Lucas to start up their own Bay Area film studios, and remained in Marin County throughout his prolific career.
You may have first seen the work of Marin County film director John Korty on Sesame Street, in animated segments like the one seen below. But he was not known for children’s work. He directed the film version of the debauched drug-use tale Go Ask Alice, won an Emmy for the 1974 film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and a Best Documentary Oscar for 1977’s Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?. Korty passed away at his Point Reyes home last Wednesday, according to the Bay Area News Group. He was 85.
Korty arrived at Stinson Beach in 1964, creating his own film studio there. Its first production was a film called The Crazy-Quilt, seen below, which shot largely in Golden Gate Park and narrated by Burgess Meredith. At that point Korty had already won his first Oscar, a Best Documentary Short Subject award for his debut Breaking the Habit.
Korty would go on to win an Emmy award for the made-for-TV film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and a Best Documentary Oscar for Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?.
The last statue Lorabelle looks at is Douglas Tilden's 1907 bronze of Junipero Serra. Then she sees Tom Rosqui by Stow Lake. Her first words in the movie: "I thought you were a statue." It's the beginning of an alternatingly lovely & harsh filmed fable. https://t.co/I8dDbvKr5M pic.twitter.com/03JXKMn5YB— Brian Darr (@HellOnFriscoBay) June 14, 2020
His greatest legacy may be spawning the notion of starting a Bay Area-based film studio, an idea duplicated by George Lucas (Skywalker Ranch) and Francis Ford Coppola (Zoetrope Studios). Korty was actually briefly a tenant at Zoetrope Studios, though as legend has it, he left when Coppola raised the rent on him.
The Burgess Meredith narration says she believed in "romance and statuary" before taking us on a tour of some of the Golden Gate Park's prominent examples (not including the statue of park mastermind John McLaren, who ironically didn't want statues in the park.) pic.twitter.com/QtdAxb563O— Brian Darr (@HellOnFriscoBay) June 14, 2020
Korty is survived by his wife Jane Sylvia, and three children Jonathan, David and Gabriel.
Image: Directors Guild of America