Ken Burns
American documentary filmmaker
Ken Burns
Kenneth Lauren "Ken" Burns is an American director and producer of documentary films, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs. Among his productions are The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009) and Prohibition (2011). Burns' documentaries have been nominated for two Academy Awards, and have won Emmy Awards, among other honors.
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CNN's 'The History of Comedy' Is Funny How?
Huffington Post - 6 days
President Donald Trump derides CNN as fake news. Does that mean "The History of Comedy," an eight-part documentary series premiering on the network Thurs. Feb. 9, is fake jokes? No, this is the real deal; a deep dive into a century of one-liners, pratfalls, and social commentary; of vaudeville, burlesque and nightclubs, of stand-up, satire and silliness. As the title of the first episode, "F***ing Funny," indicates, don't expect the decorum of Ken Burns' "The Civil War," or a strict chronology for that matter. Of the first three episodes viewed, each is more about context, how we got from Lenny Bruce to Louis C.K., from Jean Carroll (forgotten today but an acknowledged inspiration to Lily Tomlin) to Sarah Silverman, and from how comedians take their life into their own hands every time they go on stage, as Larry David observes in episode three, to what Maria Bamford celebrates as "the triumph of a good joke." "It's about how comedians work, the process, and who broke b ...
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Huffington Post article
Living In The Time Of Trump
Huffington Post - 15 days
Around my house, I'm the source of near-constant mockery for my ability to be nostalgic for virtually anything that happened before right now. If the topic is even remotely related to "Encino in the 70's", apparently I not only have written eight articles about it, but I manage to even describe gas lines, smog alerts, Skylab and the Hillside Strangler in sepia-hued tones, like I'm a walking Ken Burns documentary in Puma sneakers. Okay, it's true that in the 80's I was obsessed with the 60's, so much that I planned some of my outfits by studying old Byrds album covers. And in the 80's, like '86, I was already throwing '80's Night" parties, heavy on Dexy's Midnight Runners and Toni Basil and Men Without Hats. As if these were songs from a bygone jukebox, not the radio three years earlier. So, it should come as little surprise that I've been feeling awfully nostalgic lately. Nostalgic for a time when America was a beacon for all nations, a symbol of tolerance, inclusion, decency a ...
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Huffington Post article
Ken Burns American Heritage Prize to be awarded to David McCullough
Yahoo News - 26 days
BOZEMAN, Mont., Jan. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American Prairie Reserve is proud to announce that bestselling author and renowned historian David McCullough has been named the recipient of the first Ken Burns American Heritage Prize. Named in honor of America's most revered visual historian and documentary filmmaker, the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize  recognizes an individual whose body of work has advanced our collective understanding of the indomitable American spirit. The Prize also serves to inspire public support for American Prairie Reserve, a modern-day embodiment of America's optimistic and boundless approach to accomplishing the unprecedented — in this case, by creating the largest park in the continental United States on the Great Plains of northeastern Montana.
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Yahoo News article
Trump Reportedly Plans To End National Arts Funding
Huffington Post - about 1 month
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Well, having art and culture sure was cool while it lasted! President-elect Donald Trump plans to dramatically slash funding for the humanities when he takes office, according to a new report from The Hill. In meetings with White House staff, Trump transition officials have reportedly indicated that the administration will shutter the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as privatize the Corporation for Pub ...
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Huffington Post article
Ken Burns, Trent Reznor teaming up for Vietnam doc
CBS News - about 1 month
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CBS News article
A-Listers Party At The White House Until Morning To Say Goodbye To Barack Obama
Huffington Post - about 1 month
With only two weeks left until Barack and Michelle Obama vacate the White House for good, the first family welcomed a host of celebrity guests on Friday night for a star-studded farewell party.  Aside from an awards show, there haven’t been this many famous people gathered in one room since a casting call for a holiday-themed Garry Marshall romantic comedy.  The White House bash effectively serves as the kickoff to events celebrating President Obama’s time in office, leading up to his final address, which he’ll deliver in Chicago on Jan. 10. Days later, President-elect Donald Trump will call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. home after his inauguration, for which he’s struggled to find big-name performers.  In contrast, Obama’s farewell party attracted some of the biggest A-listers around. Attendees reportedly included Meryl Streep, George and Amal Clooney, Robert De Niro, Beyoncé and Jay Z, Nick Jonas, Jordin Sparks, David Letterman, Paul McCartney, Kelly Rowland, Olivia Wilde and Jas ...
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Huffington Post article
A Place To Call Home: Our Pan Am Museum
Huffington Post - 4 months
It's been 25 years since the demise of Pan American World Airways, but the Pan Am "family" endures. As proof, a core group of dedicated and enthusiastic former employees of the airline is working hard to create a permanent historical and educational institution -a Pan Am museum that we can all call "home." The newly founded Pan Am Museum Foundation ( is building an initial Pan Am Exhibit to be launched in a dedicated Pan Am area at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, New York ( The Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, seeks to protect and archive Pan Am's artifacts, and to illustrate the significant achievements of the airline. Most importantly, the museum will tell the stories of the former Pan Am employees to help memorialize one of the most beloved companies of all time. On December 3, 2016 the Inaugural Clipper Gala will celebrate the first phase of the Pan Am Exhibit, "The Boeing 314". It promises to be an ex ...
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Huffington Post article
Burns adapting 'The Gene' book into PBS film
Yahoo News - 4 months
NEW YORK (AP) — Ken Burns is getting back into medicine.
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Yahoo News article
Ken Burns Blasts Trump For Insisting The Central Park 5 Are Guilty
Huffington Post - 4 months
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns mocked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday for continuing to insist, in the face of the evidence, that the five black and Hispanic men known as the Central Park Five are guilty of rape. The five men were exonerated over a decade ago. There’s no continued debate around this case. These men didn’t commit the crime, and the city of New York paid them an eight-figure settlement just two years ago for wrongfully convicting them. But none of this matters to Trump, who in a CNN interview this week reiterated his baseless claim that the men are guilty. Burns wasn’t having it: Apparently Mr. Trump is unfamiliar with the concept of wrongful conviction. — Ken Burns (@KenBurns) October 7, 2016 In 1989, five black and Hispanic teens were convicted of beating and sexually assaulting a jogger in New York City’s Central Park. The case was built on flimsy evidence and confessions from the teens that ...
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Huffington Post article
Ken Burns says new Nazi documentary evokes refugees' plight
Yahoo News - 5 months
KEENE, N.H. (AP) — When Ken Burns screened clips of his latest documentary at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a fearful woman approached him and asked, "Is this going to happen to us again?"
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Yahoo News article
Review: ‘Defying the Nazis’: An American Couple on a Rescue Mission
NYTimes - 5 months
Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky’s documentary tells of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who traveled to Czechoslovakia in 1939 to help Jews and others flee persecution.
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NYTimes article
Award-winning Filmmaker Erik Angra Is Youngest Person to Receive Sole Credit as Editor of a Ken Burns Film
Yahoo News - 6 months
NEW YORK, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With his work on "Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War," Erik Angra ( has become the youngest person to earn sole credit for editing a Ken Burns documentary. "Defying the Nazis" will be shown at select theaters in New York and Los Angeles, with a special screening at the White House as part of the administration's discussion of the Syrian refugee crisis. "Working with Ken Burns was like earning a Ph.D. in documentary filmmaking," says Angra.
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Yahoo News article
Ken Burns: Historians "aghast" at Trump's campaign traction
CBS News - 7 months
The filmmaker who created "Historians on Donald Trump" is also out with his first children's book about past American presidents
Article Link:
CBS News article
11 paid iPhone apps on sale for free today
Yahoo News - 9 months
With all of the news focused on Google I/O 2016 today, Apple fans might be feeling a little left out. Don't be jealous, iOS users, distract yourself instead by loading up on paid iPhone and iPad apps on sale for free. Today's list includes some of the best freebies we've found all week, including a free in-app purchase for a great Reddit app, a cool app that lets you add filters to Live Photos, an app that lets you use your iPhone as a wireless number pad for your computer, and plenty more. You'll also find several remaining free downloads in yesterday's post to help pass the time during I/O. MUST SEE:  This hidden iPhone trick just became my new favorite feature These are paid iPhone and iPad apps that have been made available for free for a limited time by their developers. There is no way to tell how long they will be free. These sales could end an hour from now or a week from now — obviously, the only thing we can guarantee is that they were free at the time this post was written. I ...
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Yahoo News article
Ken Burns Delves Deeply Into America's Complex Racial History
NPR - 10 months
The documentary filmmaker has been chosen to deliver this year's Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for work in the field.
Article Link:
NPR article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Ken Burns
  • 2016
    Age 62
    In 2016 he also gave a commencement speech for Stanford University criticizing Donald Trump.
    More Details Hide Details Burns frequently incorporates simple musical leitmotifs or melodies. For example, The Civil War features a distinctive violin melody throughout, "Ashokan Farewell", which was performed for the film by its composer, fiddler Jay Ungar. One critic noted, "One of the most memorable things about The Civil War was its haunting, repeated violin melody, whose thin, yearning notes seemed somehow to sum up all the pathos of that great struggle." Burns often gives life to still photographs by slowly zooming in on subjects of interest and panning from one subject to another. For example, in a photograph of a baseball team, he might slowly pan across the faces of the players and come to rest on the player who is the subject of the narrator. This technique, possible in many professional and home software applications, is termed "The Ken Burns effect" in Apple's iPhoto, iMovie and Final Cut Pro X software applications. Burns stated in a 2009 interview that he initially declined to have his name associated with the software because of his stance to refuse commercial endorsements. However, Apple chief Steve Jobs negotiated to give Burns Apple equipment, which Burns donated to nonprofit organizations.
    The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Burns to deliver the 2016 Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities, on the topic of race in America.
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    Burns was the Grand Marshal for the 2016 Pasadena Tournament of Roses' Rose Parade on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California.
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  • 2013
    Age 59
    In 2013, Burns received the John Steinbeck Award, an award presented annually by Steinbeck's eldest son, Thomas, in collaboration with the John Steinbeck Family Foundation, San Jose State University, and The National Steinbeck Center.
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  • 2012
    Age 58
    In 2012, Burns received the Washington University International Humanities Medal.
    More Details Hide Details The medal, awarded biennially and accompanied by a cash prize of $25,000, is given to honor a person whose humanistic endeavors in scholarship, journalism, literature, or the arts have made a difference in the world. Past winners include Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2006, journalist Michael Pollan in 2008, and novelist and nonfiction writer Francine Prose in 2010.
  • 2011
    Age 57
    As of 2011, Burns resides in Walpole, New Hampshire, with his second wife, Julie Deborah Brown, whom he married on October 18, 2003.
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  • 2010
    Age 56
    As of 2010, there is a Ken Burns Wing at the Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video at Hampshire College.
    More Details Hide Details In 2004, Burns received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
  • 2009
    Age 55
    In August 2009, Kennedy died, and Burns produced a short eulogy video at his funeral.
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  • 2008
    Age 54
    In 2008, the Democratic National Committee chose Burns to produce the introductory video for Senator Edward Kennedy's August 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention, a video described by Politico as a "Burns-crafted tribute casting him Kennedy as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port."
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  • 2007
    Age 53
    In endorsing Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency in December 2007, Burns compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
    More Details Hide Details He said he had planned to be a regular contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Current TV. Burns is the recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees. The Civil War has received more than 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, the Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild of America, a People's Choice Award, a Peabody Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, a D. W. Griffith Award, and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize.
  • 1982
    Age 28
    In 1982, Burns married Amy Stechler, with whom he had two daughters, Sarah and Lily; the marriage ended in divorce.
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  • 1977
    Age 23
    Burns worked as a cinematographer for the BBC, Italian television, and others, and in 1977, having completed some documentary short films, he began work on adapting David McCullough's book The Great Bridge, about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
    More Details Hide Details Developing a signature style of documentary filmmaking in which he "adopted the technique of cutting rapidly from one still picture to another in a fluid, linear fashion and then pepped up the visuals with 'first hand' narration gleaned from contemporary writings and recited by top stage and screen actors", he made the feature documentary Brooklyn Bridge (1981), which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary and ran on PBS in the United States. Following another documentary, The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God (1984), Burns was Oscar-nominated again for The Statue of Liberty (1985). Burns went on to a long, successful career directing and producing well-received television documentaries and documentary miniseries on subjects as diverse as arts and letters (Thomas Hart Benton, 1988), mass media (Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio, 1991), sports (Baseball, 1994, updated with 10th Inning, 2010), politicians (Thomas Jefferson, 1997), music (Jazz, 2001), literature (Mark Twain, 2001), war (the 15-hour World War II documentary The War, 2007), environmentalism (The National Parks, 2009) and the Civil War (the 11-hour The Civil War, 1990, which All Media Guide says "many consider his 'chef d'oeuvre'").
  • 1975
    Age 21
    Studying under photographers Jerome Liebling and Elaine Mayes and others, Burns earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in film studies and design in 1975.
    More Details Hide Details Upon graduation, he, Mayes and college classmate Roger Sherman founded Florentine Films in Walpole, New Hampshire. The company's name was borrowed from Mayes' hometown of Florence, Massachusetts. Another Hampshire College graduate Buddy Squires subsequently succeeded Mayes one year later in 1976.
  • 1971
    Age 17
    He graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details Turning down reduced tuition at the University of Michigan, he attended Hampshire College, an alternative school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where students are graded through narrative evaluations rather than letter grades and where students create self-directed academic concentrations instead of choosing a traditional major. He worked in a record store to pay his tuition.
  • 1953
    Burns was born on July 29, 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Lyla Smith (née Tupper) Burns, a biotechnician, and Robert Kyle Burns, at the time a graduate student in cultural anthropology at Columbia University in Manhattan.
    More Details Hide Details According to his website, Ken Burns's brother is the documentary filmmaker Ric Burns. He is a distant relative of poet Robert Burns. Burns's academic family moved frequently. Among places they called home were Saint-Véran, France; Newark, Delaware; and Ann Arbor, where his father taught at the University of Michigan. Burns's mother was found to have breast cancer when Burns was 3 and died when he was 11, a circumstance that he said helped shape his career; he credited his father-in-law, a psychologist, with a signal insight: "He told me that my whole work was an attempt to make people long gone come back alive." Well-read as a child, he absorbed the family encyclopedia, preferring history to fiction. Upon receiving an 8 mm film movie camera for his 17th birthday, he shot a documentary about an Ann Arbor factory.
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