By Tom Morrow
My dear friend Bill Stromberg has been gone two years, but he left behind a lifetime of film and entertainment achievements that were passed onto his sons, Billy and Robert Stromberg.
Bill spent more than 30 years in Hollywood working as a special effects artist. He was a master at “stop motion” animation, learning his craft from the master himself, Ray Harryhausen (“Mighty Joe Young,” “1 Million B.C,” among his many films).
Bill wrote and directed one full-length film, “The Crater Lake Monster,” which today is still a cult classic distributed around the world. It has consistently been listed in the top 10 low-budget Sci-Fi films. Bill had his heart, soul, and a lot of his own money into the project. When the distributing company insisted the film never made any money, Bill went to an attorney for help.
The attorney in Hollywood was very familiar with the ploy the distributing company was doing and advised Bill rather quickly.
“You in the right, of course, but how much ‘justice’ can you afford?”
Bill got the point – the attorney never charged him for that sage advice.
Bill made dozens of small movies, including a short presentation written by good friend Ray Bradbury. Bill’s rendition of “Sound of Thunder” especially pleased Bradbury, who was one of world’s best-known sci-fi writers.
Seven of his short-subject films were made in his final years with yours truly. I did the writing narration, Bill did the editing, directing and cinematography. We even won an award in the first Oceanside Film Festival.
Our production was either very good or very bad. The film, “Haunting of San Luis Rey Mission” was submitted and won “Honorable Mention.” When the judges returned our DVD copy, we discovered we had submitted the wrong copy. The DVD had no sound. They still thought it worthy of mention. Hmmmmm.
Bill was in the Class of 1958, the first graduating class of the new Carlsbad High School. His sons, Billy and Robert graduated some 25 years later. Billy, Class of ‘81, was in the band; Robert, who graduated in 1983, was the varsity quarterback on the ’82-‘83 football team.
While Billy went into the musical recording business (he taught himself how to play the piano), Robert followed his Dad in the film industry.
Billy became a composer and conductor. He spent a number of years re-recording sound tracks from classic films such as “Robin Hood,” “They Died With Their Boots On,” and many more. Billy conducted the Moscow Symphony and the Berlin Brandenburg Philharmonic orchestras to record the music. Billy’s albums have become cult classic among vintage film lovers.
Bill’s younger son, Robert, has won two Oscars, five Emmys, and three Bafta’s (Britain’s Oscar). He won as Best Special Effects in “Avatar,” and “Alice in Wonderland.” He directed “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie. His Emmys were for art direction on a number of “Star Trek” episodes. His Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) was for “Best Art Direction” for “Avatar.”
Those of us who knew Bill certainly miss him. He was a good friend and one of the most talented men I ever knew – but, he’s left many of his gifts behind in his two sons.
WORD POWER — Definition of “Liquidity” is when you look at your retirement funds and wet your pants.
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