John Bailey Obituary – Death: ‘Ordinary People’ & ‘The Big Chill’ Cinematographer And Former Academy President Has Passed Away, Cause Of Death
Renowned cinematographer John Bailey, whose illustrious career included lensing Oscar Best Picture winners Ordinary People and The Big Chill, passed away on Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 81.
John’s wife, Carol Littleton, herself an Oscar-nominated film editor and former Academy governor, shared the heartbreaking news, stating, “It is with deep sadness I share with you that my best friend and husband, John Bailey, passed away peacefully in his sleep early this morning. During John’s illness, we reminisced how we met 60 years ago and were married for 51 of those years. We shared a wonderful life of adventure in film and made many long-lasting friendships along the way. John will forever live in my heart.”
Bailey’s remarkable filmography spans over five decades and includes notable works like The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, Groundhog Day, In the Line of Fire, As Good as It Gets, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Must Love Dogs.
He embarked on his cinematic journey as an assistant cameraman on the 1971 film Two Lane Blacktop. Bailey made history as the first cinematographer to serve as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, holding the position for two terms from 2017 to 2019.
During his extensive involvement with the Academy, Bailey contributed significantly to various committees, including Preservation and History, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, Film Scholar and Grants, International Outreach, Science and Technology Council, Membership Screenings, and In Memoriam. He also served on the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board.
The Academy expressed deep sorrow over Bailey’s passing, acknowledging his profound impact and contributions to the film community. The American Society of Cinematographers, of which Bailey was a member, honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2015.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in Bailey’s memory to the Academy Foundation. The cinematic world mourns the loss of a visionary talent, and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.