News of David Shepard's passing

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News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Lokke Heiss » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:01 pm

It is with great sadness to report David Shepard passed peacefully away tonight, surrounded by his family and friends. I could talk about David's generous spirit, how he freely gave his time, energy to so, so many people. Or I could talk about how David's keen intelligence and encyclopedic knowledge improved so many film projects over the years.

But what I'd rather talk about is what David meant to me. David had a very special gift - the gift to intuit what people around him were interested in doing, and then finding a way to make it happen. When I was in film school and he was my teacher, my assignment was to write a paper on a film of my choice - the only requirement was that it had to be silent. I picked Nosferatu, it seemed like an easy film to write about (after all, I'd already seen it). Little did I know what I was in for. David liked the paper so much he asked me if I wanted to do a commentary track on a Nosferatu disc he was producing. I immediately said yes, and that decision has put me on a path any Monster Kid would love to be on.

The other wonderful (and sneaky) thing David did for me was back in 1994, when he handed me a 16mm reel - a comedy short - asking me to take it to Pordenone, explaining that he wanted me to be the 'official representative of Film Preservation Associates,' and explained how precious the film was and how important it was to get it to the festival. I can't for the life of me remember what the name of the film was - but this was yet another life changing event. Looking back at this, I see a gentle ruse at work: If David had said: "I know this great film festival that you would like," I would have found a hundred reasons not to go. 1994 was my first year at the festival, and that first trip would expand my world in wonderful and dramatic ways.

David, you helped me to lead a much richer life. Thank you, dear friend. I will truly miss you.
"You can't top pigs with pigs."

Walt Disney, responding to someone who asked him why he didn't immediately do a sequel to The Three Little Pigs

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:03 pm


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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by JLNeibaur » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:25 pm

Around 45 years ago, when I was first learning the basics of film history, David answered, through correspondence, all of my questions, with patience and encouragement. I learned as much from him as anyone. RIP


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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by moviepas » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:12 am

I represented Eastin-Phelan Corp(Blackhawk Films) for a number of years in the 1970s here in Australia. Little did we know that video would soon displace home film collecting. David was around Blackhawk during this period but I did not meet him at Davenport/Iowa and I was out of the film business as such for video and music when he took over the Blackhawk mark and materials. I did meet writer Richard Bann at Davenport when he worked there, if only briefly.

Sadly, another door closed on that era. I enjoyed reading David's take on various restorations, good and bad, and looked forward to them.

Certainly David will be missed by many.

Rest in Peace, David

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by luciano » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:27 am

David was the kindest, most generous, and thoughtful man I ever knew. He was always willing to share his wealth of knowledge and his enthusiasm for film. He always found the time to answer my questions, and always peppered every moment with his wit and wonderful humor. David represented the soul of motion picture preservation. He may be gone from the physical world. But whatever your belief is, no one can deny that his soul will live on through all the work he accomplished. It was the joy and love of his life, and that will never die.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by gentlemanfarmer » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:47 am

Like so many of us, my interest and ability to work with silent films wouldn't have been possible without David Shepard. It is hard to think of the silent film world without him. Generous, helpful, patient, knowledgeable, and willing to share so that the films themselves would continue to work their magic. Rest in peace.
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:35 am

I wish I could say something comforting, but the only things that occur to me are angry, banal and profane.

Film lovers are sick people.
-- Francois Truffaut

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by drednm » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:43 am

He was a giant among us.
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:49 am

RIP, David

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by rhettrospective » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:59 am

How incredibly sad to hear
He was most generous to me. In 2011, I asked him if I could interview him briefly about his career, and he obliged.
(I'm just a film fan from Australia).

You can listen to the phone interview here ... vationist/" target="_blank" target="_blank

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by MaryGH » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:18 am

So sorry to hear of his passing - RIP David
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Smari1989 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:56 am

Very sad. Rest in peace, Mr. Shepard.
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Battra92 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:05 am

No words to say except we probably would not be here if not for him.

God bless you and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by wich2 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:25 am

My conversations with David over the decades, about Film, Radio Drama, Dickens, and anything else, were always just a treat.

Yes, in his field, he earned the title of "great." But to paraphrase something that Abraham Lincoln once said about a deceased acquaintance:

Let him have that monument - along with the well-assured and more enduring one in the hearts of those who love humanity and its art like he did.

With prayers for rest for him, and comfort for his loved ones,
-Craig Wichman

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Ned Thanhouser » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:39 am

The first Thanhouser film I discovered came from Blackhawk, it was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on 16mm in 1986. I grew up believing all the Thanhouser films were gone, burned by my Grandfather who saw no value in keeping them...but thanks to David, I was reunited with artifacts from my families heritage decades after they ceased operation. David was very supportive through the years alerting me of new Thanhouser finds and supplying me with copies. He will be missed by me and everyone who worked with him as a pillar of preservation activism.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Ann Harding » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:58 am

RIP Mr Shepard.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Mark Zimmer » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:51 am

What sad news to start the day. David was a gem, and I can think of no one who did more to preserve classic American films. My first exposure to him was the lengthy interview I did with him back in 2000, and I was impressed by his generous willingness to talk with me about his work. ... w.php?ID=9

In fact, that interview went on so long that my dog got mad and chewed through the cord to my tape recorder, causing an abrupt stop in the middle of it.

Some time later, David suggested that I should come to the Niles film festival, which I did, and had a great time and we had many talks. We also exchanged a number of emails and phone calls over time, talking about film, preservation and everything under the sun.

In recent years since I stopped reviewing DVDs I sadly hadn't had as much reason to get in touch with him, so we kind of fell out of contact, and I regret that deeply now. I'll miss you, David. Thank you so much.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by wich2 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:12 am

Good interview, Mark.

"... Eventually I came to feel strongly that a film that was just on the shelf in the Library of Congress for posterity, although preserved, was not alive. It didn't live until it was an emotional or at least an intellectual experience for people who wanted to see it ..."

Would that ALL collectors and collecting entities in this field, and in others like classic radio drama, were so driven.


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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Dan Oliver » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:18 am

I never had the pleasure of meeting him, so only know him through his work and his postings here, but all the same I feel a tremendous loss. This was a man who truly made a difference in the world, and certainly changed the lives of all of us here for the better. Rest in peace.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Amigojose » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:32 am

I will forever be grateful that David was able to release the (as closely as possible, anyway) theatrical versions of the Chaplin First National shorts and The Kid on dvd through Image. I sold off my Warner/MK2 set when Criterion began issuing the titles on Blu-Ray, but David's Chaplin set isn't going anywhere. Oh yes, and I love the fact that he included Carl Davis's recording of the score on City Lights. What a treat!

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by silentfilm » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:06 pm

Frank Thompson has an incredible Commentary Track interview with David that can be downloaded from iTunes at ... 7417?mt=2#

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Chris Snowden » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:09 pm

David was vastly more than just a prominent film collector/historian. He was possibly the kindest, most generous person I've ever known, in ways that involved significant expenses of time and money (and even heartache) for him. I know a few stories that he'd probably have preferred me to keep to myself, so you'll just have to trust me on that!

One thing that always impressed me about David was his gift of trust. Even without knowing me particularly well, he began giving me access to irreplaceable fine-grains from the Blackhawk Collection, and he was always incredibly casual about it. Occasionally when I was in town, he'd ask me to deliver a print to the Academy or somewhere, and I vividly remember driving through Hollywood with a 35mm print of a rare Valentino in my trunk, and how mind-blowing that was for me--- in large part because he had a total and inexplicable faith in me that I wouldn't betray his trust. (And I didn't.)

You don't forget a generous spirit like that, and I'll never forget David Shepard.
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:11 pm

This is another good interview that focuses especially on the Paramount films he helped get to LOC. ... d-shepard/" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Gaucho » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:36 pm

David was one of the most well-read, ethical, witty, and genuinely kind people that I ever had the pleasure of knowing. Especially rare qualities in my experience with people working in film. The nature of the comments in this and other related threads speaks to how much good he did. We'll certainly miss him but it's encouraging to know that he left the world a better place by his being here.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by NotSoSilent » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:40 pm

Chris Snowden wrote:You don't forget a generous spirit like that, and I'll never forget David Shepard.
Well said, and very true.

When David mailed me pictures of old Hollywood locations for a trip I was planning, the pictures were photocopies that were already yellow from old age. They weren't just copies of copies, it appears they were his own pictures he had for years. Each one was hand numbered (32 total) and he took time to hand write notes on each explaining what was in the picture. I can't tell if he added the notes for me or if they were already on there. Either way, I thought it was so incredibly generous of him and was shocked that somebody would be that thoughtful.

To this day it surprises me that somebody listed on the credits of so many quality restorations and releases would take the time to respond to emails from a bum like me, and mail at his own expense items from his personal collection. Who does that? He certainly was a man of grace and character.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Donald Binks » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:32 pm

The fact that so many silent films are now "out there" and available for us to watch on DVD is no doubt due in part to the indefatigable efforts of David Shepard in helping to preserve them. I can think of no better way of honouring his memory than by thinking of him whenever I watch a silent film. Thank you so much and R.I.P.
Regards from
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by silentfilm » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:21 pm ... -76-970975

David Shepard, Silent Film Preservation Giant, Dies at 76

10:39 AM PST 2/1/2017 by Etan Vlessing

Courtesy Photo
David Shepard
He restored most of the silent films in today's DVD and video collections.

David Shepard, a silent film preservation giant and archivist, has died. He was 76.

Shepard died on Tuesday night in a hospice in Oregon after a long illness, Shirley Hughes, director of the Toronto Silent Film Festival, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

"He was extremely important for film preservation, restoration and advocacy. He was an intelligent and generous man with his time, his expertise and unfailingly enthusiasm for silent film," Hughes said in a statement.

U.S. distributor Kino Lorber, who collaborated with Shepard on a host of silent film releases, also paid tribute to the film preservation champion. "It is with much sadness that Kino Lorber bids farewell to one of its longtime collaborators, film preservationist David Shepard," Lorber said Wednesday.

A lifetime silent film preservationist, Shepard, through his company, Film Preservation Associates, restored most of the silent films in today's DVD and video collections. His restoration credits include Abel Gance’s La Roue (1922), Chaplin at Keystone (1914) and C. B. DeMille’s 1927 production of Chicago.

"Shepard has done as much as anyone to both preserve and promote our film heritage, especially the silent era," Thomas Gladysz, founder and director of the Louise Brooks Society, said in a statement on news of Shepard's passing.

Born in New York City in 1940, Shepard started out in the 16mm and 8mm market by acquiring and expanding the Blackhawk Films library. He later expanded to video releases via Kino Lorber, Image Entertainment, Flicker Alley, and other companies.

Through his efforts, Hollywood's best known silent films have survived to be viewed by modern audiences. In 1992, Shepard transferred to NTSC video a 16mm color negative of D.W. Griffith's silent film Birth of a Nation made from a tinted nitrate print. That classic film restoration was later released on VHS, laserdisc and DVD.

Shepard more recently worked with Lobster Films in France to release classic silent films. "One important thing to note about David: he was not a hoarder. He shared his collection generously, and his guiding beacon was always the films themselves — doing whatever he could do just to get the films seen," Kino Lorber said in its Facebook tribute.

Shepard's work with Kino Lorber included the original VHS release of Fritz Lang’s The Spiders, works by Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, John Barrymore, and titles from the Griffith Masterworks collection and the Red Silents Soviet film collection.

He taught cinema at the USC Film School, joined the American Film Institute in 1968 as an early staff member, and co-authored or edited around a dozen books.

Shepard has been recognized by the San Francisco International Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Denver Silent Film Festival, International Documentary Association and the National Society of Film Critics, among others.

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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by sepiatone » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:29 pm

RIP David. Just sad to hear of your passing. I never met David personally. Anyone who's spent time watching silent film programs or reading silent film books will have encountered David's name. My first viewing of Blackhawk rereleased silents were a mixed bag. "Tempest" on a VHS from Grapevine, "Oliver Twist" on a VHS from Viking etc, Mack Sennett's "Barney Oldfield's Race For a Life" and some Harold Lloyd 2-reelers on a distant video label I can't remember. Also some abridged versions of well-known silents that were on 16mm when the Public Library still offered them. The most profound viewing of Blackhawks were many of the Biograph Library on Video Yesteryear of which many here would remember the bright yellow VHS boxes. The Biographs were run excrutiatingly too slow which I remember would drive me crazy. But it was fascinating viewing seeing Biograph material, a lot of it pre-Griffith , a lot of which I'd only read about. Thanks to David's dedication, we all are in debt to his stalwartness.
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:17 pm

Rest in peace. Perhaps we can find comfort in the words of one of our finest writers of recent memory:

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms...
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

― Maya Angelou

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Gagman 66
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Re: News of David Shepard's passing

Unread post by Gagman 66 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:51 pm

:cry: Truly Heartbreaking news! A depressing loss to all of us. Virtually no one had done more to perpetuate the legacy of the Silent Era, even Kevin Brownlow. My sincere condolences to his family.

I would hope that TCM will organize some sort of a fitting tribute showcasing numerous films that he helped to preserve and restore. Including TOL'ABLE DAVID which to the best of my knowledge they have never aired. Also the early DeMille Domestic Comedies, and how about Lubitsch THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE, as well as the aforementioned CHICAGO? Perhaps they could get Jeffrey Vance as a guest host? Just a thought. It probably isn't likely to happen, but by all rights it should.

What will become of his personal collection and company Film Preservation Associates? Is there any word? God's Peace David, you will be profoundly missed. :?
Last edited by Gagman 66 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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