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MacQuitty, William 1905-2004

MacQUITTY, William 1905-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 15, 1905, in Belfast, Ireland; died February 5, 2004, in London, England. Film producer, photographer, banker, and author. Unintentionally falling into a career as a filmmaker, MacQuitty is often remembered for producing A Night to Remember, the classic film about the Titanic, but he was also an accomplished photographer and author who was fascinated by exotic cultures. From an early age, he had a desire to explore the world outside his native Belfast, a yearning he managed to fulfill, interestingly enough, through a career in banking. After attending Campbell College, he passed a banking exam and was hired by the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China. After a brief time working in Belfast and London, including a period when he worked as a London constable, he attained an assignment in India. MacQuitty fell in love with the exotic country, which was still under British rule at the time, and also joined the Auxiliary Punjab Light Horse while he was there. In addition, he helped found the Lahore Flying Club. Later banking assignments included jobs in Ceylon, Malaya, China, and Thailand. He returned to his native land in 1939 to be with his dying mother. Deciding to leave banking behind, MacQuitty next took up farming and then studied psychoanalysis for a time in London under Wilhelm Stekel. Neither career seemed to be for him, however, but he found his calling unexpectedly after the Ministry of Information hired him to work on films to promote the war effort. After the war, he began making feature films, including Happy Family, The Beachcomber, The Black Tent, The Informers, and A Night to Remember, the film that James Cameron later said inspired him to make his version of the Titanic disaster. A Night to Remember was especially poignant for MacQuitty, who was present as a young boy when the great ship departed Belfast in 1912. MacQuitty's film career next led to television, and he founded Ulster Television in 1959, a station that produced the series Midnight Oil and broadcast educational programs. Wanderlust soon struck MacQuitty again, though, and he traveled to Egypt to produce a film about Gordon of Khartoum. The project was never completed, but his time there led to a fascination for the temples of Abu Simbel. Using his own photographs as illustrations, he wrote and published his first book, Abu Simbel (1965). This experience led to MacQuitty's final change in careers to become an author and photographer of nonfiction books mostly about Asia and Africa, including Buddha (1969), Tutankhamen: The Last Journey (1972), The Island of Isis (1976), The Wisdom of the Ancient Egyptians (1978), and The Glory of India (1982). His final books were the autobiography A Life to Remember (1991) and Survival Kit: How to Reach Ninety and Make the Most of It (1996). Acclaimed for his photography, MacQuitty was given the Lumiere Award from the Royal Photographic Society in 2002.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland), February 21, 2004, p. 14. Times (London, England), February 9, 2004, p. 25.

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