Legendary TV Lighting Designer Bill Klages Has Died

Bill Klages
(Image credit: Future)

Famed TV lighting designer Bill Klages, who won seven Primetime Emmy Awards and was the first lighting designer to be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame died on Sunday, July 7, according to Lighting Designer News

For a number of years, Klages was also a regular columnist for TV Tech. A tribute to Klages on the occasion of his induction into the Television Hall of Fame, noted that he started in the very early days of U.S. television at NBC in 1948 and that he amassed more than “300 credits amassed over a 58-year career that began in the days of live black-and-white television dramas and has continued into the 21st century.” 

Klages started at NBC working as a video maintenance engineer on such series as “Your Show of Shows” and “The Kate Smith Hour.” He moved into lighting, which he had always wanted to do, in the mid-1950s after a two year stint in the Navy. He remained at NBC until 1970 when he went freelance and started his own company. 

Over the years, he was involved many high profile shows and events, including such award shows such as the Primetime Emmys, Tonys, Grammys and Golden Globes; entertainment specials featuring Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and Mikhail Baryshnikov; special events like the 1984 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremonies and inaugural galas for Presidents John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush, according to the Television Academy. 

In addition to his Primetime Emmy wins, he was nominated for 23 Emmys.

Bruce Aleksander, current author of TV Tech's Lighting Technology column, considered Bill a mentor.

"He inspired me and was generous with his time and sharing his knowledge," Aleksander said. "He was one of the pioneers of lighting, standing alongside Imero Fiorentino, David Clark (Imero's associate) and George Spiro Dibie. These folks pretty much invented cinematic lighting for video/television. Bill was the last one that remained standing."

More information about his career is available here, here, here and here

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.