Net Worth Revealed

Robert Altman’s Birthday, Family, Bio

ROBERT ALTMAN: A DIRECTOR AHEAD OF HIS TIMERobert Altman, a name synonymous with innovation and creativity in the world of cinema, was an influential American film director, born on February 20, 1925, in Kansas City, Missouri. With a career spanning over four decades, Altman left an indelible mark on the industry through his unique storytelling techniques and his ability to push the boundaries of conventional filmmaking.

In this article, we will delve into Altman’s life before fame and explore the journey that led him to become one of the greatest directors of all time.


1. Early Life and Education:

– Altman was born into a middle-class family in Kansas City, where he developed a passion for film at an early age.

– After completing his education, he served as a bomber pilot during World War II, an experience that would later influence his approach to filmmaking. 2.

Career Highlights:

– Altman’s breakthrough came in the late 1960s with the critically acclaimed film “M*A*S*H,” a black comedy set during the Korean War. The movie resonated with audiences and received widespread praise for its anti-war commentary and satirical tone.

– He continued to experiment with different genres, producing notable films such as “Nashville” (1975), a sprawling ensemble drama set in the music industry; “The Player” (1992), a dark comedy about Hollywood; and “Gosford Park” (2001), a murder mystery set in an English country estate. – Altman’s signature style included overlapping dialogues, ensemble casts, and an emphasis on character development, which challenged traditional narrative structures.

3. Awards and Legacy:

– Altman’s films received numerous accolades and nominations, including five Academy Award nominations for Best Director.

While he never won the award, he was honored with an honorary Oscar in 2006 for his contributions to cinema. – His impact on the industry can be seen in the work of contemporary filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson and David O.

Russell, who cite Altman as a major influence on their careers.

Before Fame

1. Early Career:

– Before venturing into film directing, Altman worked in industrial films, directing documentaries for various companies.

This gave him an opportunity to develop his storytelling skills and experiment with different visual techniques. – In the early 1950s, Altman transitioned to television, directing episodes for popular series like “Bonanza” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” These experiences helped him refine his craft and learn to work within the constraints of limited budgets and time.

2. The Altman Style Emerges:

– Altman began to break free from the constraints of traditional television directing in the 1960s when he directed episodes for the groundbreaking series “Combat!” His unique approach, which included handheld cameras and naturalistic dialogue, earned him recognition within the industry and set him apart from his peers.

– This newfound freedom allowed Altman to fully explore his directorial vision, leading to the creation of his most renowned works. 3.

“That Cold Day in the Park” and Critical Reception:

– Altman’s first feature film, “That Cold Day in the Park” (1969), showcased his idiosyncratic style and unconventional storytelling. The psychological thriller received mixed reviews, but critics and audiences took note of Altman’s exceptional talent and his ability to create a sense of unease through visual and narrative techniques.

4. The Road to Success:

– Following the release of “That Cold Day in the Park,” Altman faced a period of commercial flops and limited success.

However, he continued to experiment with different genres and techniques, refusing to compromise his artistic vision. – It was not until “M*A*S*H” in 1970 that Altman experienced widespread recognition and acclaim, cementing his place in film history.


Robert Altman’s unique directorial style and commitment to challenging conventional storytelling earned him a prominent place in the history of cinema. Through his eclectic filmography, Altman demonstrated that traditional narrative structures could be stretched and manipulated, allowing for new and exciting possibilities.

His influence can still be felt today, as filmmakers continue to draw inspiration from his groundbreaking work. Robert Altman will always be remembered as a director ahead of his time, a visionary who dared to push boundaries and redefine cinematic storytelling.


1. Altman’s Unconventional Filmmaking Techniques:

– Altman was known for his unorthodox and innovative filmmaking techniques, which set him apart from his contemporaries.

He often used overlapping dialogue, allowing multiple conversations to be heard simultaneously, creating a sense of realism and adding depth to his films. – Altman frequently employed improvisation to capture authentic and spontaneous moments from his actors.

This improvisational approach created a naturalistic feel in his films and allowed for unexpected and genuine performances. – He also made use of long tracking shots and Steadicam shots, which allowed for fluid and uninterrupted movement within the scenes.

2. Altman’s Unique Soundtracks:

– Music played a significant role in Altman’s films, and he often used unconventional soundtracks to enhance the storytelling.

In “Nashville,” he featured live performances from the actors, blurring the line between fiction and reality. – Altman’s films frequently incorporated a variety of musical genres, reflecting the diverse cultural landscapes he portrayed.

From country music in “Nashville” to jazz in “Kansas City” (1996), the carefully curated soundtracks added depth and richness to the narratives. 3.

Altman’s Satirical Commentary:

– Throughout his career, Altman used satire to comment on social and political issues prevalent in society. In “M*A*S*H,” he used the Korean War as a backdrop to critique the Vietnam War, utilizing dark humor to expose the absurdity of warfare.

– Altman’s satirical commentary extended to Hollywood itself. In “The Player,” he mocked the commercialism and shallowness of the film industry, presenting a searing critique of its excesses and egos.

4. Altman’s Collaborations:

– Altman often collaborated with a core group of actors, creating a dynamic and familial atmosphere on set.

He frequently worked with actors like Elliott Gould, Julie Christie, and Keith Carradine, forming strong professional relationships that spanned multiple projects. – Altman’s collaboration with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond was particularly noteworthy.

Zsigmond’s cinematography added a distinctive visual style to Altman’s films, enhancing the storytelling and capturing the essence of each setting.

Family Life

1. Marriages and Children:

– Altman was married three times throughout his life.

His first marriage was to LaVonne Elmer in 1946, with whom he had two children, Michael and Stephen. The marriage ended in divorce in 1952.

– In 1954, Altman married Lotus Corelli, an actress, and they had two children, Christine and Michael. However, their marriage ended in divorce in 1959.

– Altman’s third and final marriage was to Kathryn Reed in 1959. They had two sons together, Robert and Matthew, and remained married until his death in 2006.

2. Family Influence on Altman’s Career:

– Altman’s family had a significant impact on his career.

His father, B.C. Altman, was a wealthy insurance salesman who supported his filmmaking aspirations. Altman often drew inspiration from his family dynamics, incorporating elements of his own experiences into his films.

– Altman’s son, Stephen Altman, also became involved in the film industry as a production designer, frequently collaborating with his father on various projects. 3.

Altman’s Personal Life:

– Altman was known for his laid-back and unconventional approach to life, which often mirrored his directing style. He was a larger-than-life character, known for his love of whiskey and cigars, often seen with a drink in hand on the set.

– Despite his reputation as a maverick, Altman was respected and admired by his colleagues for his creative vision and ability to foster a collaborative atmosphere on set. 4.

Legacy and Influence on Family:

– Altman’s legacy extended beyond his own career, as his children and grandchildren followed in his footsteps. Several of his children and grandchildren have pursued careers in the arts, ranging from directing to music.

– His son, Robert Reed Altman, founded the Altman Companies, a successful film production company, continuing the family’s involvement in the film industry. In conclusion, Robert Altman’s career was marked by his innovative filmmaking techniques, unique soundtracks, satirical commentaries, and collaborations with talented actors and cinematographers.

Beyond his professional life, Altman had a diverse family life, with multiple marriages and six children. His family’s influence on his career and their continued involvement in the industry have further solidified Altman’s lasting legacy.

Robert Altman will always be remembered as a visionary director who pushed the boundaries of cinema and left an indelible mark on the art form.

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