Jon Wilkman, a documentary filmmaker who received two Emmy nominations for writing and producing Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood, an acclaimed seven-hour miniseries for TCM in 2010, has died. He was 80.
Wilkman died of kidney cancer on November 30 at his home in Beachwood Canyon, Los Angeles, a family spokesman said.
A founding member and three-time president of the International Documentary Association, Wilkman also wrote and produced a 1991 NBC special hosted by Jane Pauley celebrating the 100th episode of LA law and Chicano rock! The sounds of East Los Angelesa 2008 documentary film narrated by Edward James Olmos.
moguls & movie stars, narrated by Christopher Plummer, examined the industry from the invention of film to the birth of the New Hollywood movement in the early 1970s.
Born in Los Angeles, Wilkman, the son of an architect, graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1964.
He began his career that year in New York in the documentary department of CBS News, where he worked on the series hosted by Walter Cronkite The twentieth century (later renamed The 21st Century). He later produced, directed and wrote for the WCBS TV program Eye on New York.
Wilkman founded his own production company in 1971 and shot documentaries for PBS, among other things The great American dream machine and Attica before returning to Los Angeles in 1978. He later created documentary elements for the HBO television movies fatherland 1994 & Winchell In 1998.
Wilkman was an author whose books included 1969 Black Americans: From the Colonial Era to the Present; 2016 Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of the 20th Century and the Making of Modern Los Angeles; and 2020s Screening Reality: How Documentarians Reinvented America.
He co-wrote with his late wife Nancy Imagine Los Angeles and Los Angeles: A Pictorial Celebrationreleased in 2006 and ’08 respectively.
As a member of the DGA and WGA West, Wilkman has lectured on film history and documentary writing at USC and Fordham, and on LA history at the UCLA Extension.
Among the survivors are his brothers Bill, Rick and Bob. His wife died in 2012.
Donations on his behalf can be made to Oberlin College and/or LA radio stations KUSC or KPCC. A celebration of his life in the New Year is planned.