Hector R. Figueroa, Prolific Cinematographer for Four Decades
Figueroa got his start as a baseball-playing extra in the 1957 feature film Fear Strikes Out and retired as a director of photography.
Hector Figueroa, a cinematographer whose career spanned more than four decades, died December 26, 2012, in Los Angeles. He was 78.
As versatile as he was prolific, Figueroa worked on dozens of comedies, dramas, made-for-television movies and miniseries over the years.
A pioneer in his profession, he became a grip and rose through the ranks to become a director of photography. He was also one of the first to use the Steadicam in the film industry.
For decades, he was often one of the first people on the set and one of the last to leave. When he became a cameraperson, and at last felt he had earned the title director of photography, “That’s a wrap” was his cue to shake the hands of his crew, and anyone else he passed on the way home, and thank them.
Even after joining the cinematographers guild, IATSE Local 600, he never gave up his IATSE Local 80 card as a member of the grips union because he knew he could always work as an “extra hammer.”
Figueroa’s series credits included Gunsmoke, Get Smart, The Doris Day Show, The Greatest American Hero, Cagney & Lacey, Jake and the Fatman, Night Court and ER.
His TV movies and miniseries included the NBC Wednesday Night Mystery Movies, The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, The Manions of America, Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker, Seizure: The Story of Kathy Morris, Marriage Is Alive and Well, The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd, Reunion, Having Babies (I and II) and Breaking Home Ties.
In addition, he worked as a camera operator on the feature films Capone, Bound for Glory and The Car.
A native of Los Angeles, Figueroa was a avid baseball player in his youth. He graduated from Dorsey High School and attended Los Angeles City College and USC.
During the Korean War he served in the U.S. Army, and played baseball for the Army team. His skill on the diamond later helped him score a role as a baseball-playing extra in the 1957 feature film Fear Strikes Out, about former Boston Red Sox star Jim Piersall.
Survivors include his wife, three children, two stepchildren, a sister, a niece and many cousins.