British Universities Film & Video Council

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Adolph Simon

Profile

Born
c.1893
Death
c.1987
Dates
1907-1954
Role
Cameraman; Sound engineer
Newsreels / Cinemagazines
Pathé's Animated Gazette; Pathe News
Search
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Notes
In 1977 Baynham Honri claimed that Simon was both 80 and 82 years old, but Reg Sutton said he was 84. I have accepted the latter age. Name also given as ‘Adolphe Simon.' In 1987 Simon was interviewed for the BECTU History Project, recording no. 19 (1987), and apparently died soon afterwards.
Photo credit
BUFVC/John Turner Collection

Career

Adolph Simon was born in France, and in 1907 joined Charles Pathe’s laboratories at Joinville. By 1910 he was taking Paris street scenes for Pathe, but was then sent to London as a newsfilm cameraman after the launch of Pathe’s Animated Gazette in July 1910. The date has been given as 1911, but Simon may have been the man ‘sent over from the French factory’ before the launch to help Harry Sanders [qv] supply Pathe with British material. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Simon returned to France to serve in the army, and became an observer with kite balloons. After the war Simon went to Shanghai, where he distributed Pathe equipment and ran his own newsreel during the period from 1920 to 1926. According to one account ‘he once pinched the Far Eastern Games from a competitor in Peking by standing on a table outside the ground and then escaping, with the table, by rickshaw.' Simon later returned to London, and when Pathe launched its Super Sound Gazette in June 1930 he was one of the chief technicians responsible for the introduction of sound. Simon was also credited in camera teams at major events such as Grand Nationals, Boat Races, Cup Finals and Test Matches, his first being for ‘THE AMATEURS GRAND NATIONAL’ in No.31/32 of April 1931.

In October 1934 Simon travelled to Belgrade with Ben Benson [qv] to cover ‘THE FUNERAL OF ALEXANDER I OF JUGOSLAVIA’ for Super Sound Gazette No.34/85. In May 1937 Simon was credited in the camera team that filmed ‘THE CORONATION OF THEIR MAJESTIES KING GEORGE VI AND QUEEN ELIZABETH’ for Super Sound Gazette No.37/38. It is possible that these credits were in fact as sound engineer, for during the war Simon apparently returned to this work. Reg Sutton [qv], who joined Movietone as a sound engineer in 1946, recalled that Simon ‘was a great help to me in my early days ‘on the road,' he was a nice man and had a wealth of experience.' Simon often worked with the Pathe cameraman John Rudkin [qv], as his sound engineer. In August 1947 they filmed the British Services Searchlight Tattoo in Berlin for ‘BERLIN SEES BRITISH TATTOO’ in Pathe News No.47/66. In January 1949 Simon was credited in the team that filmed ‘WHO’S FOR THE CUP’ in Pathe News No.49/4, and he afterwards appears regularly in the issue sheets. Simon appeared in the Pathe News comic item ‘MOO-SIC TILL THE COWS COME HOME’ in No.50/4 of January 1950, which he covered with Rudkin. The Pathe story card explains that it showed ‘C[lose]U[p] Mr Simon Pathe Sound Operator, sitting cross legged playing tin whistle. CU Mr Simon still playing tin whistle, egg falls on head.'

Simon acted as cameraman in March 1951, filming ‘PEOPLE IN THE NEWS’ in No.51/25. He also apparently worked on the ‘Flying Enterprise’ story in January 1952, and was one of the two soundmen covering ‘THE LAST JOURNEY (KING’S FUNERAL)' in February 1952, for Pathe News No.52/15. In October 1952 Simon was again credited as one of the cameramen who filmed ‘TRIPLE TRAIN CRASH’ for Pathe News No.52/82. Simon was also sound engineer to Rudkin on ‘QUEEN MEETS COMMONWEALTH MINISTERS’ in Pathe News No.53/40 of June 1953, and also worked on ‘THE CORONATION OF HM QUEEN ELIZABETH’ in No.53/41 of the same month. Simon’s last sound engineer credit is on ‘THE SPORTING WORLD’ for No.54/56 in July 1954. Simon afterwards left Pathé, but he reportedly ‘went on to work as a freelance for many more years.'

Sources

Cine Technician, April-May 1940, p.25: BUFVC, British Paramount News files, Issue Number 1718 (Rudkin’s rota dopesheet, 8/11 August 1947): P. Norman ‘The Newsreel Boys,' Sunday Times, 10/1/1971, p.11: B. Honri, ‘Newsreel Boys’ Reunion,' Screen International, 11/6/1977, p.10, and ‘Newsreel Nostalgia,' British Journal of Photography, 1/7/1977, p.550: J. Ballantyne (ed) ‘Researcher’s Guide to British Newsreels: Vol.II’ (1988), p.35, using material supplied by John Edwards of Buff Films.

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