Keith Swadkins Passed Away
04.10.1938 - 19.04.2017
|Read more at|
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Bill Lawrence
Keith Swadkins in March 2003 in Bradford. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev.
It is with sadness that we received the news that Keith Swadkins had passed
away. Keith had long been a great champion of
Cinerama, passionate fan of the
format and films, and a friend to fellow enthusiasts around the world. Many
will have met and developed a friendship with him at the
in Bradford each year, as Keith and his wife Brenda turned up to renew old
acquaintances and impress newcomers with his knowledge.
I first got to know Keith when I started work at the National Museum of
Photography Film & Television and we were still 18 months away from starting
screenings of "This is Cinerama" on three-strip and on a louvred
screen. This was a culmination of Keith’s energy and doggedness in pursuing
the revival of the greatest 1950s widescreen format.
It was in October 1985, in Christchurch, New Zealand, a group of movie
enthusiasts got together and formed the International Cinerama Society.
Keith took on the task virtually single-handedly to search out all the
remaining films, information, personal and equipment that still remained. It
was rapidly disappearing. This was not a simple task, there were no Google
searches, no internet even. In fact, Keith never engaged with the internet
or email and remained a pen, paper and stamp man to the very end. He became
the clearing house of information from every corner of the globe as it came
into him by post. Keeping everyone up to date he developed the Cinerama
newsletter that he typed, edited, posted to similarly minded enthusiasts.
The International Cinerama Society
• Go to Newsletters:
• Go to Cinerama Theatres:
TICS's List, issue #18
• Go to PDF: Swadkins' Home Cinema, 1985
So when the Museum was building a new cinema and the suggestion was made,
why not install Cinerama, it was a film museum after all, then Keith was the
man to advise. In June 1993, Keith saw his dream, as
Lowell Thomas uttered
the magic words, “Ladies and gentleman, This is Cinerama …”, the
curtains opened and the audience plummeted into a roller-coaster ride.
|More in 70mm reading:|
Keith Swadkins 2003
Movies Are Never What
To Split or not to Split ... That is the
The Passing of Doris
The Passing of Howard Rust
Weekend, Bradford, England
Keith at BBC
Keith at BBC
Opening of Cinerama at Pictureville
Keith Swadkins accepting the 2003 Academy of the Widescreen Weekend certificate from
fellow academy members John Belton, Howard
Rust and Thomas Hauerslev.
Picture by Paul Rayton.
But this was not the end for Keith’s ambitions and dreams. While a regular
visitor to the Museum to watch
"This is Cinerama",
the interest in the form was still building and screenings where being
talked about at the Cinerama Dome and a new revived Cinerama theatre in
Seattle. Memories were being stirred in the States and
and Randy Gitsch
were planning their
"Cinerama Adventure" documentary on the history of the format. Again
Keith was the man to turn to and he became major advisor on the film. Dave
“He always encouraged me personally to keep moving forward on Cinerama
Adventure documentary project - which eventually would lead to the
restoration of all the films he loved so much.”
Indeed without Keith, how much of the
Weekend, or the great archive of knowledge and memory of Cinerama, or
the films that so many have seen restored in cinemas across the world
(admittedly not all in the 3 strip), of the sheer joy people have had in
just talking about Cinerama in the past 30 years would have been lost? The
contribution he made is immeasurable.
It was not difficult to honour Keith, in 2003, with admission to the
Academy of the Widescreen
Weekend. It’s arguable he should have been the first, but there were
logistical issues in setting up the Academy, and opportunities with overseas
visitors that were taken. Given it was the UK, then Keith should have been
the first, for many he was the first champion of Cinerama.
Keith leaves his wife, Brenda (who many will remember from the WSW) and his
four daughters Vreli, Heather, Dawn and Samantha.
Thanks from the family
Swadkins with friends in Bradford.
I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for all your help and support
after dad's passing.
The tributes and cards have been overwhelming and his funeral was just as he
would have liked it with the final curtain closing to the Cinerama exit
music, thank you Bill.
On the day there was a great turn out and sadly we didn't get to meet and
thank everyone because there was limited time at the chapel and many of his
colleagues didn't join us at the wake afterwards. Please could you pass on
the family's gratitude to all who were with us in either body or spirit and
we hope to have the opportunity to share stories with you all in Bradford in
We are all doing OK and appreciated the links that you have also forwarded
to us. In the weeks to come we will enjoy watching and reading them.
|Go: back - top - back issues - news index