Jack Couffer - The Lion and The Giraffe - A Naturalist's Life in the Movie Business
by Jack Couffer
- 336 Pages
- Released: May 31, 2010
- Publisher: BearManor Media
Description by OLDIES.com:
"He's a Hyphenate". That's Hollywood lingo for a person who has done more than one job on a film. Director-Writer-Cameraman-Producer-Naturalist, and Oscar nominee, Jack Couffer falls into that rare niche of multi-taskers who has done it all. He has made movies of many genres all over the world, but his specialty has been films with animals sharing the screen with human characters.
Ring of Bright Water, Never Cry Wolf, Out of Africa, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Living Free all bore the Couffer identity. This is the story of the pains and joys in making these and many other delightful films.
Jack Couffer was born on Dec 7, 1924, in Upland, California. As a youth he became fascinated with natural history and raised hawks, owls, squirrels, and coyotes. During high school years, he worked as a student assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. On his 17th birthday, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Shortly thereafter, Jack’s museum mentor, an expert on bats, was approached by the War Department to research a secret project that would use bats as carriers of miniature incendiary bombs. As a part of this team, Jack was drafted into the army. Half of his military service was spent on this seemingly nutty, but surprisingly valid, idea. Jack has written of this bizarre scheme in his book "Bat Bomb, World War II's Other Secret Weapon". The remainder of his military duty was as crew on high speed PT type air-sea rescue boats.?After the war, Jack worked as a commercial fisherman and paid crew on yachts.?In?December 1947, he married Joan Burger. Shortly thereafter, while living aboard their schooner, he enrolled at University of Southern California where at the new Department of Cinema Studies he fell to the teaching gift of department head, Slavko Vorkapitch. Jack collaborated with two fellow students, Conrad Hall and Marvin Weinstein, in a class project that won the first (now annual) ASC student film award and sold to TV. High with this success, the partners formed a production company and became entrepreneurs while still university students.? With his mixed abilities as a naturalist and film maker, Jack joined Walt Disney Studios as a cameraman on the early True Life Adventure, series. One of the great experiences of his early career was a Disney assignment in what was then one of the most remote and least-visited spots on earth. Jack and Conrad and a helper sailed a 28 foot ketch to the Galåpagos Islands where they lived off the land and filmed wildlife for nearly a year. Jack’s son Michael, now a biological consultant, was born in 1962. Jack worked at Disney for more than ten years in a variety of functions and participated there in the making of more than two dozen movies. Since then, he has worked on TV and feature films for many of Hollywood's production companies and independents. He has published twelve books of both fiction and non-fiction.?His filming travels took him to Africa where he fell in love with the country and a lady at the same time. He lived in Kenya for 32 years and Marchesa Sieuwke Bisleti was his companion until her death in February 2005.?Jack is now sharing his life in California with retired actress Jean Allison who was the ingénue in the first feature film he shot.??
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