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William Greaves

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Information about William Greaves

Profile image of William Greaves

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Documentary Filmmaker
Stage Actor
Film Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Olive Green
Favorite Food:
Chinese, West Indian, Caribbean Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Dakaras, Senegal, Malibu, California, Goa, India
Favorite Quote:
A race without knowledge of it's history and like a tree without roots.

Birthplace

Born:
10/8/1925
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Documentary Filmmaker
Stage Actor
Film Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Olive Green
Favorite Food:
Chinese, West Indian, Caribbean Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Dakaras, Senegal, Malibu, California, Goa, India
Favorite Quote:
A race without knowledge of it's history and like a tree without roots.

Birthplace

Born:
10/8/1925
Birth Location:
New York
See how William Greaves is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Filmmaker William Greaves was born in New York City to parents from Jamaica and Barbados. Growing up in Harlem, Greaves attended Stuyvesant High School, and after graduating in 1944, attended the City College of New York. Greaves spent 1948 studying under German-born avant-garde filmmaker Hans Richter. After appearing in the musical Finian's Rainbow, Greaves was invited to join the prestigious Actors Studio in New York, where he trained with Marlon Brando and Shelley Winters.

Greaves began his career as an actor, and appeared in the Broadway hit, Lost in the Stars, as well as films such as 1948's Souls of Sin. Relocating to Canada in 1952, Greaves worked for the National Film Board as a writer and director. While in Canada, Greaves studied under John Grierson, regarded as the father of modern documentary film making. After returning to the United States in 1961, Greaves joined the International Civil Aviation Organization as a public information officer producing films for the organization, and in 1963 he went to work for the United Nations Film and Television Department in the African Academy of Arts and Research. Greaves formed William Greaves Productions in 1964, and soon thereafter began producing his own works. Greaves' first feature film, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, was released in 1968, the same year he began producing television's Black Journal, a monthly television newsmagazine airing on public television. Black Journal aired until 1970, and received an Emmy in 1969.

After leaving Black Journal, Greaves returned to independent film making with his 1971 Ali, the Fighter. Since then, Greaves has been prolific in his art, producing films such as Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice, From These Roots, and his most recent work, Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey. In all, he has produced more than 200 documentary films and has received more than seventy international film festival awards. He has been inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, received special tribute at the first Black American Independent Film Festival in Paris, and has received an "Indy," the Life Achievement Award of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers. Greaves has been a member of the Actors Studio for fifty-five years, and is the chairman of the Film Committee of the Princess Grace Foundation. Greaves and his wife, Louise, resided in New York.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Greaves's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Greaves discusses his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Greaves discusses his ancestors' origins
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Greaves tells of his father's emigration from Barbados and his personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Greaves discusses his mother's personality and how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Greaves talks about his siblings and his parents' education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Greaves talks about growing up in Harlem and his interest in African studies
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Greaves discusses Africanist and scholar William Leo Hansberry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Greaves discusses his intellectual peers in Harlem
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Greaves talks about his parents' role in his early education and the fault with America's media and educational systems
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Greaves discusses his academic education and his early interest in art
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Greaves discusses his early career in the performing arts and on screen
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Greaves talks more about his early acting career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Greaves details the racist attitudes that caused him to abandon acting and leave the United States
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Greaves discusses his work with the National Film Board of Canada
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Greaves discusses his return to the United States from Canada and his filmmaking career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Greaves discusses his time in Dakar, Senegal with Langston Hughes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Greaves discusses his film productions with various U.S. government agencies
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Greaves talks about his film 'Still A Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Greaves details his experiences while working on the 'Black Journal' television series
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Greaves discusses his decision to transfer control of the 'Black Journal' television series to Tony Brown
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Greaves talks more about 'Black Journal' and compares it to others with a similar format
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Greaves details his documentary, 'Nationtime, Gary,' and the response it received from mainstream media outlets
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Greaves discusses his film, 'Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Greaves discusses his film 'Ali, the Fighter' and its impact on Hollywood films about boxing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Greaves discusses his film, 'Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Greaves talks more about his film on Ralph Bunche
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Greaves discusses his film 'Voice of La Raza' and his experience with actor Anthony Quinn
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Greaves discusses the perspective needed for a successful black filmmaker
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Greaves gives advice to future filmmakers, and talks about those who inspired him
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Greaves discusses intellectual role models and the 'William Greaves Aesthetic' found in his films
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Greaves relates his impressions and relationships with notable people in the arts
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Greaves details more of his impressions of the notable people in the arts
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Greaves talks about his hopes for today's black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Greaves discusses his parents' reactions to his career choices
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Greaves discusses what his legacy may be
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Greaves discusses how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Photo - William Greaves, age fourteen. Class photo from Fredrick Douglass Junior High School, New York, New York, 1940s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Photo - William Greaves, age eleven, with Albert Popwell and others after a school play at PS89 Elementary School, New York, New York, late 1930s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves from one of his acting roles, New York, New York, late 1940s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves from one of his acting roles, late 1940s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves from one of his acting roles, late 1940s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Photo - Sir Alistair Cooke's photograph of William Greaves dressed as an Arab, Egypt, 1950s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Photo - William Greaves's mother, Phyllis Emily Muir Greaves, New York, New York, early 1930s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - William Greaves with his wife, Louise Archambault Greaves, 1995
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - William Greaves with his great-granddaughter, Lauren, 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - William Greaves's friend, Emily, ca. 1950s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - William Greaves with Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène and unidentified woman, 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - William Greaves working on 'Getting to Know Me' television series, during the 1970s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - William Greaves with filmmakers Satyajit Ray and Elia Kazan, New York, New York, 1978
  • Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - William Greaves with Louise Archambault Greaves, the President of India, Giani Zail Singh, and others in India, 1985
  • Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - William Greaves with 'Black Journal' production staff, Madeline Anderson and Kent Garrett, New York, New York, 1968-1969
  • Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - William Greaves with author Toni Morrison, New York, New York, 1988
  • Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - William Greaves with the 'Black Journal' film crew, New York, New York, 1968
  • Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - William Greaves with Louise Archambault Greaves and Bobby Shepherd, 1990
  • Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - William Greaves with Louise Archambault Greaves and Dr. Robert Edgar, 1997
  • Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - William Greaves with Mel Ferrer and Susan Douglas, reuniting with the cast from the movie 'Lost Boundaries,' 1995
  • Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - William Greaves with actor Anthony Quinn and William H. Brown at the movie screening of 'Voice of La Raza,' 1972
  • Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - William Greaves producing the film on either Booker T. Washington or Frederick Douglass, 1985-1986
  • Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves, 1995
  • Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves, 1995
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Photo - William Greaves on the set of his movie, 'Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One,' New York, New York, 1968
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Photo - William Greaves in his office at William Greaves Productions, Inc., New York, New York, 1999
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Photo - Publicity photograph of William Greaves, 1995