His parents had moved to Los Angeles due to his father's illness that weather was sure to improve. Soon his father's death would make him the patriarch of the family. He was the oldest of three boys and the Great Depression had thrust the family into severe poverty. Robert was squeaking by selling newspapers on the street corner. He was also waiting outside Paramount Studios for a chance at a job. One day an employer came out and asked Robert if he wanted to work. He had a chance that he would not squander.
That day he worked hard and gained the employer's confidence. He was asked back to work another day. He made friends inside the crew and parlayed his fortune into more steady work. His new career in entertainment earned him enough to put his two brothers through college and keep a roof over the family's head. He would move into the transportation department inside of the studios driving for Howard Hughes, Joan Crawford, Betty Davis, Cecil B. DeMille, and Samuel Goldwyn. He would later move to Universal Studios where he worked on many television shows and his last assignment was the Steven Spielberg Film, "Jaws."
Robert worked alongside of Gerald Molen who was quite fond of him and requested him on Jaws. Gerald would go on to produce many main stream notable motion pictures.
Robert married and had two boys. One of those boys was Edward.
Edward would find work as a lighting technician in the motion picture industry working on 12 O'Clock High, Daniel Boone and Harry O among many others. His big break came when Ted Holt quit as the gaffer on King Kong. Richard Kline, the cinematographer, turned to Ed and handed him the lighting meter making him the gaffer. He would work as a gaffer on Who'll Stop the Rain, The Fury, and the series CHiPs.
While working in production, Ed and Carole began buying motion picture lighting equipment with a partner couple. Carole ran the day to day operations of that small company. After CHiPs, Edward chose to leave working on productions and make a go of the rental business on a full time basis. Edward took care of the marketing and Carole handled the finances. She was a pioneer in the equipment rental business as the first woman working in the industry. She was recognized by the American Society of Lighting Directors for her service to the industry.
Ed and Carole bought out their partners and embarked on forming Keylite Rental Co. Inc. a boutique lighting equipment rental operation. Through organic growth and acquisitions the company grew to become the largest motion picture lighting company in the industry. At the height the company boasted 18 40' production vans, a dozen 10-tons, 20 5-ton trucks, and over 25 sound stages throughout Hollywood.
Keylite supplied lighting, grip, cable, production vehicles and generators to the feature film, music video, commercial production, and television industries. On an average year equipment would be supplied on over a hundred motion pictures and two thousand hours of television. Additionally, the company was the exclusive supplier on over 25 stages throughout the Hollywood 30 mile zone. For five years Keylite supplied the lighting equipment on the Academy Awards and for over a dozen years they supplied the equipment on the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.
When NASA needed to light the landing strip for the first night landing of a Space Shuttle, Keylite was selected to light up the runway as Challenger arrived back from outer space. Keylite supplied the equipment, crew, and services on Reagan's visit to Rockwell to show off the B1B Bomber. Reagan requested the company's services during the 1982 television special with Merle Haggard at the President's Santa Barbara Ranch.
During the reign of Keylite, branches were formed in Dallas and Phoenix as well as Paisley Park where equipment was provided to the production facilities of Prince. The company is generally credited with having brought LTM HMI Lighting into the motion picture industry from France as a major catalyst for the company's growth.
Michael would grow up on movie sets and in the rental house until he was old enough to work in production himself.
The family visited his film sets often.
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