The son of vaudevillians, Jack Cardiff began his long and distinguished career as a child actor in silent films. When he hit his teens, he moved to behind-the-scenes work and earned his first screen credit as a glorified 'go-fer,' billed as fourth assistant director on "The Informer" in 1929. He quickly rose through the ranks from clapper boy to focus puller to second-unit cameraman. He was a camera operator on what is reputedly the first British Technicolor feature, "Wings of the Morning" (1937). As he emerged as a major director of photography in the 1940s, Cardiff garnered a reputation for his bold use of color. He shot the Powell-Pressburger masterpieces "Stairway to Heaven/A Matter of Life and Death" (1946), "Black Narcissus" (1947) - for which he won a Best Cinematography Oscar - and "The Red Shoes" (1948). Cardiff went on to become one of the finest practitioners of cinematography, skillfully utilizing color to enhance such features as John Huston's "The African Queen" (1951), Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "The Barefoot Contessa" (1954) and King Vidor's "War and Peace" (1956), for which he earned an Oscar nomination.