Home Theater Forum is proud to present Film Historian Bob Furmanek. Mr. Furmanek is our official Golden Age 3-D Consultant who will be contributing content and answering member questions in our 3D Blu-ray forum.
We have provided his BIO below. Please feel free to use this thread to welcome Bob to this forum as well as ask any general questions you may have about his career.
Film historian Bob Furmanek has played an important behind the scenes role in film preservation for more than 30 years.
His first industry job was working at the highly respected John E. Allen film preservation lab in New Jersey. Bob handled nitrate print inspection, including original elements from WAY DOWN EAST and WEREWOLF OF LONDON. In addition, he worked with the handling and inspection of millions of feet of nitrate stock footage, dating back to the turn of the century.
In 1981, he was a research assistant on the David Wolper produced feature film, THIS IS ELVIS, for Warner Bros. Bob was entrusted with the security and handling of some one-of-a-kind 8mm footage taken of the controversial singer by a local police force during an appearance in 1957.
While in Hollywood in 1981, Bob met Dean Martin and began a ten year association. He produced several critically acclaimed Capitol Records re-issues of Dean’s music. One release, the CAPITOL COLLECTORS SERIES, was awarded gold status by the RIAA. Dean was particularly pleased when Bob produced the re-issue of his classic 1955 album, SWINGIN’ DOWN YONDER. He added several other Dixieland tracks from Dean’s catalog, including the previously unreleased “Darktown Strutters Ball.” When presenting him with the new release shortly after his birthday in June 1991, Dean smiled and said “I always loved Dixieland music.”
In June 1982, Bob had a chance meeting on the back lot at Warner Bros. which has enriched his life immensely. He turned a corner and literally stumbled onto legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis while he was filming the movie SMORGASBORD. This lead to an ongoing friendship with Mr. Lewis which continues to this day. Over the next 20 years as Lewis’ personal archivist, Bob was responsible for discovering and cataloging many hidden treasures from his career. Among his finds was one of the earliest surviving color videotapes: a 1959 production of “The Jazz Singer” which aired on NBC and has just been restored for release on DVD. Bob also found a 16mm film which contained a complete performance of Martin and Lewis at New York’s Copacabana in 1954. His archival efforts have led to several retrospective shows, including a salute to Lewis at the American Museum of the Moving Image and a five part documentary series for the Disney Channel.
While living in Hollywood, Bob also became archivist to the Estates of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. He utilized his research expertise to locate many lost elements, including nearly 30 crates of original radio transcriptions from the 1940’s. In addition, he located the surviving 35mm nitrate film elements for AFRICA SCREAMS. Bob funded the 35mm restoration out of his own pocket, and later produced a special edition laser disc for Image Entertainment which was awarded “Best Supplemental Disc of the Year” by Video Magazine in 1988. He also produced a color restoration of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK for laser disc and located the long lost Supercinecolor elements to ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD in England. Bob donated the materials to UCLA and the film was preserved in 2002. The restoration was released on DVD via the Warner Archive Series in 2011.
While working in various film vaults over the years, Bob discovered several important elements, including the 35mm nitrate camera negatives to MEET JOHN DOE (restored by UCLA in 1995) and the 35mm camera negative trims from the original color Star Trek pilot, THE CAGE. He was able to secure preservation by returning the un-marked footage to Gene Roddenberry at Paramount. Bob also located original nitrate 35mm materials for two Bela Lugosi films; THE DEVIL BAT and the Cinecolor feature SCARED TO DEATH which were released on laser disc by Lumivision in 1997.
In 1991, Bob co-authored ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN HOLLYWOOD. Published by Perigee Books/Putnam Publishing, this highly detailed look at the making of Bud and Lou’s feature films received excellent reviews. Library Journal called it a “definitive guide to their 36 movies.” Film historian Leonard Maltin said “More details on the making of their films than any book I’ve ever seen” and Anthony Slide in Classic Images said “This is about as good a “Films of” book as it is possible to compile. It cannot be better. Highly recommended.”
Bob worked for Capitol Records in the early 1990’s and produced 32 CD re-issues, including the RIAA gold certified Louis Prima CAPITOL COLLECTORS SERIES. Other releases in the series included Ella Fitzgerald, Al Martino, The Kingston Trio, The Andrews Sisters, Kay Starr and Grand Funk Railroad. While doing research for the 3 disc FRANK SINATRA: THE CAPITOL YEARS set, Bob discovered a previously unknown recording of “One for My Baby” in the vaults.
In 1992, Bob began an eleven year effort to help save and restore a vintage movie palace: the 1929 Loew’s Jersey Theater in Jersey City, New Jersey. He produced several highly successful shows in the huge lobby in order to raise awareness of the theaters beauty and potential as a showcase for classic film. The historic theater was saved from the wrecker’s ball and with the aid of several industry engineers; 35mm projection capability was restored to the 3300 seat auditorium. The theater is still running classic film to this day.
In the early 1990’s, Bob began his most ambitious crusade to date; to locate, secure and preserve original dual-strip 35mm prints and elements from the Golden Age of 3-D motion pictures: 1952-1955. Forming the non-profit 3-D Film Archive, Bob worked tirelessly over the next decade tracking down and re-combining lost 3-D prints. He eventually built the largest, most complete Archive of vintage 35mm stereoscopic film elements in the world. His efforts led to the highly successful WORLD 3-D FILM EXPO in 2003 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and the second EXPO in 2006.
Today, Bob is President of the 3-D Film Archive and continues his ongoing efforts to save and restore lost 3-D materials. Most recently, the Archive helped to ensure preservation of the 1954 United Artists feature GOG and has provided important research materials and documentation to Warner Bros. on their 3-D library.
2012 will be a most exciting year for 3-D fans as the Archive makes preparations to share their stereoscopic film treasures with the world!
Mr. Furmanek is our official Golden Age 3-D Consultant