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  Comments (0) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
Don Brolin
Lurching from one near disaster to another...
On a quiet street in Boulder, Colo., Don Brolin was resting quietly in his afternoon nap. Don was watched over by his wife Colleen and her sister, a registered nurse from a small town near Duluth, Minn.

Don and I had worked together for 35 years. He captured on film many of the memorable sequences in my movies.

We worked side by side occasionally, and one of those times was in New Zealand on the Jean Claude Killy TV series.

We got to spend a full day skiing on an active volcano that was blowing up every day between 3:30 and 4 p.m. It was nice to work with another cameraman who would put his life on the line to get the shots of skiing down the side of a very active volcano.

Don was always there suggesting a better camera angle or a different thing to have the skiers do. Don was not a big man physically, but he always did big things with a camera in his hands.

He mastered the operation of the temperamental Mitchell Hi-Speed camera. It ran for Don at a thousand frames per second and allowed him to get a lot of never-before-seen shots of thoroughbred horses racing at Hollywood Park in California.

Don was definitely a man for all seasons with his camera and he filmed a half-dozen sailing films in the 1970s. On two separate occasions Don and his wife Colleen sailed from Redondo Beach, Calif. to Honolulu and back.

That is a long way to sail in a 26-foot boat that was built in 1966. Don and Colleen still have that boat tied up in a slip in Redondo Beach and every summer they desert Boulder for a month to go cruising to the Channel Islands and around Catalina.

I first met Don Brolin when he was doing the public relations for the Sugar Bowl. That was in 1964 and he was living in his own “private room” in the lodge. He had built a wall around the empty space under a stair well. It was cramped but private. Some people might call it cozy. But it was a lot better than a crowded employee dormitory.

When Don showed me his photos of the Sugar Bowl and some of his press releases I started thinking about hiring him to do the same thing for my company. But he had never held a movie camera in his hand before.

In late April after the Sugar Bowl closed for the season, Don showed up in my Redondo Beach second floor office. He was wearing a neatly pressed suit, white shirt, a necktie and a vest. He was set to enter the motion picture business with me.

This was the start of a lifelong friendship.

Last summer, when Don and Colleen returned from their annual cruise, Colleen said, “Don, your dark tan from all of this sun looks kind of yellow. I think we should see a doctor!”

He did in August. And the diagnosis came back. He had cancer of the liver and wasn’t expected to live much longer.

When Don called and told me the bad news, I shed a lot of tears because he was a close friend and we had shared 35 years working together.

I then went up into my garage full of stuff and located my 16mm Bolex movie camera that I had been saving. Don used a Bolex to get all of his great sequences until we could afford to buy couple of used Arriflexes.

I shipped that Bolex to him along with a note and few rolls of film. The note read: “Hey Don! Over the years I have sent you on assignments all over the world, but you are on your own on this new one. I don’t think anyone has ever sent any pictures back from where you are going, but I know if anyone can, you will be able to do it.”

With the days now getting longer, Don will have more time to run that Bolex. I know Don will send me back some great never-before-seen images.

As soon as I get them edited and write the script I will share them with you.
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