Eugene "Gene" Polito

September 13, 1918November 28, 2010

Cinematographer, devoted husband, loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather Eugene ("Gene") Emmanuel Polito passed away peacefully at his Irvine home on November 28, 2010, after a three-year battle with esophageal cancer. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 13, 1918 to Sol and Frances Polito, Gene was eight months old when his family moved to the west coast, where his father continued his career as a cinematographer for Warner Brothers Studios. Gene graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, and went on to attend Loyola University and the University of Southern California, earning his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout WWII he worked as an engineer for Douglas Aircraft where he designed an ingenious weight-saving heating and air conditioning system using the existing structural framework of transport planes. As the war drew to a close, Gene followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a director of photography. An active member of the American Society of Cinematographers and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, over the course of his 40-year career Gene worked on hundreds of productions with Hollywood's finest directors and actors. A perfectionist at his craft, he enjoyed challenging his camera crews--whether for television series or feature films--to produce the highest quality products within the limits of production budgets. He was a pioneer in the use of "available light" photography, working in close collaboration with his colleagues in film laboratories to "push" his films 1- to 2-stops to create the look he wanted. Among his many inventions is the "Polito Bracket." His numerous television and feature film credits are documented in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). At age 62, Gene became a professor at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, a calling that gave him great pleasure. He pushed students toward a deeper understanding of such things as the mathematical derivation of optical formulas so they would understand the science undergirding the art of what they were doing. His dedication and enthusiasm made him a favorite among film students. He retired from teaching at age 70. An avid golfer, Gene launched the annual ASC Golf Classic, which is now in its 27th year. In addition to his very busy role as a grandfather and great grandfather, he enjoyed writing letters to the editor on political topics about which he felt passionate. Gene was unabashedly in love with his wife of 66 years, Lucy. The fruits of their love are nine children: Gregory Polito, M.D. (Pamela),Whittier; Stephen Polito (Barbara), San Juan Capistrano; Mary Aaselund (Steven), Redmond, WA; Christine Parsons (Donald), Danville CA, Richard Polito, DDS (Krista), San Diego; Michele Seboldt (Craig), Yorba Linda; Joan Accomazzo (David), Danville, CA; Douglas Polito (Colleen), Moorpark; and Lisa Minier (Mike), San Clemente; 24 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. His funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, December 4th, at 10 AM at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 9 Hillgate, Irvine. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gene's honor may be made to: USC School of Cinematic Arts Office of Development & Alumni Relations 900 West 34th Street Los Angeles, California 90089-2211


  • Funeral Mass Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eugene "Gene" Polito

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Scott Manning

December 3, 2010

As my former father-in-law, Gene was a warm, caring gentleman who doted on Lucy, admired his children and their accomplishments and loved his grandchildren, including my daughter, Alyssa. He was one of the most organized people I have ever met (got a Post-It, anyone?), yet I'll never forget how computers and technology frustrated him! I know he missed his golf, so he'll be taking every opportunity now to work on his swing and fine-tune his putting! It's been awhile but I will remember his friendly nature with the staff at the places we would dine - whether at Waters, Tommy Bahama's or Strawberry Farms - always a smile on his face. May God comfort and be with Lucy, the Polito family and Gene's friends and associates during this time of passing and remembrance.

December 2, 2010

My sincere sympathy to all the Polito family.
Deirdre Dunn McMahon