The Charles Guggenheim Collection

Charles Guggenheim stands behind a camera

Charles Guggenheim
(Photograph by Steve Barrett)

Acquired in 2004, the Charles Guggenheim Collection includes not only prints of most of Guggenheim’s films, but original negatives, outtakes and production materials as well.  Receiving 12 Oscar nominations and four Academy Awards, Guggenheim (1924–2002) is the most honored documentary filmmaker in Academy history.

More About Guggenheim

A pioneer of political campaign films, the filmmaker’s career directing documentaries about presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial candidates spanned over three decades.  His films on presidents Kennedy, Truman and Johnson are permanently exhibited at their presidential libraries.

Born in Cincinnati, Guggenheim attended Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) until he was drafted into the Army in 1943. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1948, and in 1951 began producing the ABC children’s series “Fearless Fosdick,” for which he won a Peabody Award.  He then took a job as acting director at St. Louis’s new public television station, KETC. After creating Guggenheim Productions in 1954, he received his first Academy Award nomination for “A City Decides”, which described the events leading up to the successful integration of the St. Louis public schools. Later he produced and directed his first feature, “The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery” (1959), starring the then-unknown Steve McQueen.

In 1964, George Stevens, Jr. at the United States Information Agency (USIA) commissioned Guggenheim to produce “Nine from Little Rock”, about the first nine students to attend an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957. Guggenheim won his first Academy Award for this film, which the Academy screened in September 2006 during “Oscar’s Docs, Part II.” Also in 1964 Guggenheim received a nomination for the film “Children Without”, and achieved the rare distinction of two nominations in the Documentary Short Subject category in the same year. “Children Without” chronicles the life of a young girl and her brother growing up in the housing projects of Detroit.

Guggenheim’s other Oscar-nominated films include “The Klan: A Legacy of Hate in America”(1982), which traces the Ku Klux Klan from its origins as an anti-Reconstruction movement after the Civil War to its role in the 1980s as a paramilitary force, and “High Schools” (1984), which examines the status of public high schools in America in the 1980s. Guggenheim received his third Academy Award for “The Johnstown Flood”(1989), the story of one of the most devastating disasters in American history.

He was nominated for “D-Day Remembered”(1994), a documentary feature told through the experiences of those who planned, executed and fought in the Normandy invasion.

Guggenheim’s last Academy Award came in 1994 for “A Time for Justice”, a film about the Civil Rights Movement. His final nomination was for “A Place in the Land” (1998), about George Marsh, Frederick Billings and Laurance Rockefeller, three seminal figures in the conservation movement in America.

Interesting Fact

Guggenheim’s daughter, Grace, was his longtime producer, and his son Davis is an Academy Award-winning documentarian, winning for his film “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006.

Don't Show Again