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In Memoriam: Nat Boxer

March 8, 2010

Nathan Boxer in 1972The Kirkland College community mourns the Dec. 3, 2009 passing of former film professor Nathan Boxer, who distinguished himself through teaching, as well as an illustrious career as a boom operator and sound mixer in Hollywood.

His film credits include The Rain People (1969), I Never Sang for My Father (1970), Bananas (1971), They Might Be Giants (1971), and The Godfather, Part II (1974). Other notable work includes Apocalypse Now (1979), for which he received an Academy Award, and The Conversation, for which he earned his first British Academy of Film and Television Arts nomination for best soundtrack in 1975, subsequently working with director Francis Ford Coppola on five films. Boxer’s work also includes My Bodyguard (1980), Four Friends (1981), The Cotton Club (1983), The Money Pit (1986) and his final film, The Glass Menagerie (1987). His devotion to his craft earned him a significant, memorial nod at the Mar. 7, 2010 Academy Awards, capturing the attention of those whose lives he touched.

Nat taught students at both Kirkland and Hamilton Colleges, as well as dozens of workshops around the country. He is remembered for his fine sense of humor, devotion to his students and his craft, and his extraordinary ability to hear the silence.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam Babbitt permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:07 pm

    I read with great sorrow of Nat Boxer’s passing. He was a very “Kirkland-like” teacher, in that he was a brilliant practitioner who exuded his love and passion for his work. For those who worked with him, it was contagious.
    One time, when Nat was on leave, working with Coppola on “The Conversation”, I made a trip to California to visit some foundations on behalf of the college, and I took an extra day to visit the set as Nat’s guest, watching the filming, and going afterwards to Coppola’s house to watch the screening of the previous days “rushes” with the director and crew. It was the decidedly yucky bit when the motel toilet is flushed and gushes up buckets of bloody debris. They must have filmed six or eight “takes” to get it just horribly right,
    Nat was skilled, irreverent, bright – and a free soul. A good man.

  2. Connie Halporn permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:41 pm

    Nat was a remarkable man, and a gifted teacher. It was such a surprise to hear his name last night on the Academy Awards In Memorial.
    He inspired a number of us to continue in film.video

  3. Zan Tewksbury permalink
    March 9, 2010 6:42 pm

    I never met Nat, because he was in the Phillipines on Apocalypse the entire time I was at Kirkland. Still, I in some ways credit him with me meeting my best friend, Jo Pitkin. Yes, a typical
    Kirkland story.

    The legendary Harry Kondoleon was going to make a film for his senior project, and as I understood, Nat was to be his advisor. After an audition in my dorm room, really just an interview, Harry cast me, a mere first year, to be in the film, along with Kirkland stage legends Susie Shopmaker, Melissa Stern, and Marybeth Lerner. The working title was something like “Four Smart Girls Grow Up.”

    Nat boxer was detained in the Phillipines and could not come back for Harry’s project, which was to be filmed over the short term, so it had to be scrapped. I had to scramble to find a substitute short term course. A Hamilton course caught my eye, “Finnegans Wake,” but it was only open to upperclassmen (and women). I had to convince Prof. John Gordon that I loved James Joyce as much as he did in order to be allowed in. And, it was there that I met Jo, one of only 3 other women in the course, besides myself. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Thank you, Nat, for your contributions to film history, and to my personal history.

  4. Jack Henke permalink
    April 15, 2010 11:55 am

    I took an introductory photography course from Nat during my senior year at Hamilton in 1971-72 and loved every moment of it. Nat’s gentle, inimitable style brought us within the images of Cartier-Bresson, Frank, Atget, Evans, and Arbus, and made us look at our own work with a focused, critical eye. People like him made Kirkland/Hamilton a special place. He was our teacher, but also our friend. I taught photography for many years at the high school level and Nat was with me, in spirit, every day.

  5. Ray Thompson permalink
    September 9, 2011 8:14 pm

    I just found out of Nat’s death. I had the experience of taking a location sound course with Nat at the Maine film and video workshops. What a wealth of knowledge and his ability to share it all with his students was outstanding. I personally learned more in a week than some might learn in an extended college level course. Nat was the consumate sound professional, teacher, joker and all around high class human being that we all wish we were associated with. I remember that we would at night, sometimes until the next morning, watch his work and ask questions about his technique. He would share knowledge that you can’t get from many sources other than one of the true deans of location sound. As a retired location sound guy I will not forget his wisdon, knowledge and guidance that has stayed with me since. He will certainly be missed by me as well as others in our profession.

  6. val merriman permalink
    October 23, 2011 11:58 pm

    I was fortunate to have been a student of Nat’s several times during my tenure as a student at Kirkland. He had a critical eye and was not shy about sharing his insights with his students, to my great good fortune. I remember observing him wandering around Clinton at all hours of the night with his camera, looking for the perfect shot. Now that I have the luxury of doing my own wandering with a camera, I appreciate almost 40 years later his incisive insight into the photographic and cinematic arts.

  7. Douglas Raybeck permalink
    February 23, 2012 11:42 am

    Nat was a good friend, full of irreverent humor and highly skilled at his craft. If you want to know just how skilled, watch “The Conversation” and just imagine what it took to get those recordings. Coppola thought so highly of Nat that he kept on a permanent retainer so that he would be available for sound work. This continued until Nat’s retirement.

    Sometime I will add a story about some shenanigans that Nat, Dru Sherrod and I got up to one night in KJ.

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