Elwood Carlton Winckler, a pioneer in entertainment lighting, notably as CBS’ first lighting designer, died last weekend at his home in Greenwich, CT. He was 95.
Winckler was born in 1908 in Bloomfield, NJ. During his 70-year career in theatre and television, he was a puppeteer, actor, writer, set designer, lighting and technical director, film editor, stage and unit manager, director, producer, and educator. Based on his work creating innovative lighting special effects for the Billy Rose Aquacades, including the edition at 1939 World’s Fair in New York, Carlton was asked by the US Navy during World WAR II to develop black light nighttime landing devices for aircraft carriers. He directed the first televised symphony orchestra performance, the first ship-to-shore broadcast, and the first televised two-hour dramatic program.
Throughout his career, his expertise was sought out by the likes of producers Flo Ziegfeld and John Murray Andesron, and Walt Disney, as well as the television networks of France, Britain, Germany, and Israel. In addition to being CBS’ first lighting designer, he helped the industry as it transitioned to color broadcasting. He invented the scoop and was the first person to use backlight, light modeling, and projection on television. He was director of CBS’ studio operations when the Beatles first appeared on US television, on The Ed Sullivan Show. Later, working with the lighting firm Imero Fiorentino Associates, Winckler lectured on lighting and television at more than 300 universities in 27 countries.
He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Charlotte M. Wincker, and a daughter, Sari Bitticks, of Auburn, MA.