Russell Albion Meyer, film director and producer: born Oakland, California 21 March 1922; died Los Angeles 18 September 2004
RUSS Meyer, 'King of Sexploitation', with 26 films under his belt, was one of only a few in movie-making history to write, direct, produce, film, finance, edit, act and distribute his own films. He even carried his own equipment on location.
His best-known film, the 1966 cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! , was inspirational for, among other things, the Spice Girls video 'Say You'll Be There' and Janet Jackson's 'You Want This'.
Born in Oakland, California, in 1922, Meyer was the son of a nurse and a police officer. When Meyer was 12 years old, his mother pawned her engagement ring and bought him his first camera: an 8mm Univex. He began his career as a photographer in the Army Signal Corps, travelling to the UK, Germany and France during the Second World War. Although he had begun making films in the 1950s, it wasn't until 1970 that Hollywood took notice of his abilities. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) was Meyer's first crack at a big-budget production and was financed by 20th CenturyFox. It was one of only two of his films funded by anyone other than Meyer and, tellingly, it was a satire of Hollywood.
For years, he was considered an obscure, cult figure but recently, critics have begun to reassess Meyer's work, which seems to gain resonance as time goes on. Meyer suffered from dementia during the last few years.