Shaft Director Gordon Parks Dies
The talented director discovered his calling as a photographer for Life magazine in 1948, a position he held for 20 years. During that, time Parks's photographs covered the spectrum, ranging from politics to sports, but his photos detailing poverty captured the nation's imagination.
"Those special problems spawned by poverty and crime touched me more, and I dug into them with more enthusiasm," he said.
In 1969 Parks directed his first film, The Learning Tree, based on the book of the same name. The movie eventually earned a place on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry in 1989.
A couple years later, Parks scored a breakout hit with the action-packed detective story Shaft, starring Richard Roundtree. That film fueled the blaxploitation genre of the 1970s. Roundtree said that he suspected his character was modeled after Parks.
"Gordon was the ultimate cool," Roundtree told AP. "There's no one cooler than Gordon Parks."
Parks followed Shaft with several other films including Shaft's Big Score! and Solomon Northup's Odyssey.
He also wrote a number of books including novels, essays and poetry.
Parks is survived by one son and two daughters.