David L. Wolper was born in New York City, 1928. After studying cinema and journalism at University of South California, Wolper set up a television distribution company in 1949, selling old movie serials to the small screen, then in its infancy. In 1955, Wolper moved into production with his documentary, The Race for Space, featuring unseen Russian footage. It was finally broadcast in 1960, earning an Oscar nomination.
By 1963, Wolper had been dubbed ‘Mr Documentary’ by Time, and had produced many more programs, including the Emmy award-winning Making of the President 1960. When Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, Wolper sent a team of cameramen to her funeral. He was one of the first to propose a documentary about her life, though initially most networks were uninterested.
The Legend of Marilyn Monroe, produced in 1964, is still available on DVD today and remains one of the pioneering biographical works on the actress. Speaking in the 1990s, Wolper said that he believed the authentic quality of the documentary came from it having been made so soon after Monroe’s death, when the people close to her were still alive and their memories fresh. Continue reading