Cinerama Pioneer Richard C. Babish Passed Away
September 17, 1918 – October 29, 2017.
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(left) and Borden Mace in Bradford, March 2002. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
Husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, patented inventor.
Richard Constantine Babish passed peacefully at home. He was a MIT graduate, class of 1940 and
was a Radiation Lab member and an optics developer for the Cinerama and
Cinemiracle movie companies. He joined the Perkin-Elmer Corporation in 1954
and worked in the optical department providing technical expertise for
numerous commercial and government projects.
He was very proud of his recognized work on the now de-classified U.S.
government Hexagon (KH9 or Big Bird) reconnaissance satellite program which
provided the allies with crucial information during WWII. He also provided
technical guidance for the Hubble Space Telescope mirror which has provided
all of mankind with amazing views of the universe.
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This is Oyster Bay
How Cinerama got the name
Babish returned to the Cinerama Barn - birthplace of Cinerama - on Long
Island in May 1997. He enjoyed his first visit in 40 years. Seen here
with Willem Bouwmeester (right), two nuns, and Denis Furbush, and the editor
far left. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
Predeceased by the love of his life, Josita, his brothers, Frances and
Robert and sisters, Connie and Gloria.
He is survived by his son James (Anne-Marie) and daughter Tina (Ted)
Sonntag; grandchildren, David Babish (Angela), Christina Coccia (Vincent)
and Michael Babish (Kerri), Aislinn, Cara, and Emmett Sonntag. Great
grandfather to six, uncle to nine.
He was an amazing life well lived. He will be missed by many.
Laboratory assistant Paramount News, New York City, 1940—1942.
Engineer to vice president Vitarama Corporation, Huntington, 1942—1945.
Staff member Radiation Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Engineer Perkin-Elmer Corporation, Norwalk, Connecticut, 1949—1961, branch
chief, 1961—1968, technical director, 1968—1985, principal consultant, since
Technical director Cinerama, Inc.,
Oyster Bay, New York, 1952—1954, Cine Miracle Corporation, New York City,
Los Angeles, 1954—1956.
Private practice consultant, since 1985.
Chairman advisory board optics Norwalk State Technology College, since 1985.
Technical advisor This is
Cinerama, Cinerama Holiday,
Dick Babish remembered
in the middle between Greg
Kimble, Randy Gitsch,
Chris O'Kane and Dave Strohmaier
at the Midland Hotel bar, Bradford, 2002. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev
It was the Golden Jubilee of Cinerama back in 2002. Fifty glorious years of
Cinerama were being celebrated at the Bradford International Film Festival.
It was at
Screen Weekend strand of the BIFF that I had the immense good
fortune of meeting Dick Babish, in the lobby outside the Pictureville
Cinerama. He could not stop talking, I could not stop listening. I learned a
great deal about Cinerama that day, from one great teacher. He was also one
of the greatest innovators and inventors in history. Some of his work
remains classified to this day. We owe him a great deal in many ways and
will miss him a lot.
Mark Lyndon, London, UK
I last talked with him was in 2005-ish when he and his family came to a Yale
University screening of
During Q&A afterwards I told the audience that one of the
Cinerama was here at
the screening, and had Dick stand up for an applause. Many students swarmed
around him afterwards. Yes he had a great big smile on his face.
Dave Strohmaier, LA, USA
next to his CINERAMA camera #1 on the stage in Pictureville cinema,
Bradford, 2002. Picture by Henry Taylor
Dick Babish welcomed me into the
on a winter day in 1951 and from then on was always open in helping a
bewildered assistant editor find his way amid the myriad perforations. Dick
Babish - A splendid human being.
James Morrison, USA
Sad news when someone so important to this era of cinema has to leave. A
life well lived indeed. Again, a couple of really great photos to
rekindle fond memories. At times like this I am sure that friends and
family of those who have passed will have been glad for your
David Page, Bristol, UK
Thank you for sharing the news, which I was very saddened to receive. I
called him a year ago at his care home to wish him a Happy 98th
birthday, he said he was looking to make it to 100! I guess 99 is not
too bad. I sent some of these pictures to remind him of his great
response at Bradford. He was proud of all his work, but beyond Cinerama
and C'Miracle he was happy to have worked on the secret project that
prevented the necessity of WWIII as he put it. (His obituary mistakenly
puts this in the WWII era).
I talked with his son last year who has fond memories of him working in
the basement to develop Cinerama as well as taking family pictures on
borrowed film ends and attaching them to Cinerama camera film for
You should be able to find another local obituary in the hometown
newspaper as well as an article describing his 99th birthday noting his
Henry Taylor, USA
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