Donald
Don Peterman January 3, 1932 – February 5, 2011 Prominent Hollywood cinematographer Don Peterman died in his Palos Verdes Estates home on February 5, of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of leukemia. He was 79. As a director of photography, Don broke ground in the 1983 film Flashdance, introducing a photographic style that would be mimicked for years and for which he won an Oscar nomination. A second Academy Award nomination honored his work on the 1987 film, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The American Society of Cinematographers also nominated him for outstanding cinematography in the making of this film. In a career spanning more than four decades, Don worked on 24 feature films including Men in Black, Get Shorty, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Cocoon. In 1981 Don was cinematographer on director George Cukor’s final film, Rich and Famous. Don found his life’s work early on. He began his career at age 22 as a film loader at Hal Roach Studios. From there he moved to an animation camera and an optical printer at Cascade Studios. He left Cascade Studios to work on the Lassie television series and returned as staff director of photography shooting commercials. Don next went freelance shooting TV commercials, and in 1974 shot his first feature film, When a Stranger Calls, as a freelance director of photography. Donald William Peterman was born on January 3, 1932, in Los Angeles. His father died when he was a child, and he was reared in Hermosa Beach by his mother. He graduated from Redondo Union High School and years later was honored as one of the school’s most distinguished alumni. Throughout life, Don’s heart remained in Hermosa Beach. He often reminisced about his early years there – a simpler time when bonfires on the beach and sleeping in the dunes were the norm. Everyone knew Don’s dog Ricky, who followed the mailman on his neighborhood route. In 1991 Don was delighted to work on the production of Point Break, an action film set in Southern California’s surfing culture, which he was part of himself in his youth. Don traced his interest in cinematography to the influence of a family friend, a special-effects cameraman named Roy Seawright who gave him an enlarger and opened the door to his first job in the film industry. Later, young Don served in the US Army, traveling the country to film an Army documentary for television broadcast. In 1957 he married Sally Hutcheson and a few years later they settled with their young family in Palos Verdes Estates, far from the Hollywood social scene, with its good schools and open space. Don always said that falling in love with Sally and marrying her was the best thing that ever happened to him. More than anything, Don devoted himself to family. He didn’t like being away from his wife and children when on location around the world, and he brought them with him whenever practical. All three of his sons followed in his professional footsteps, and they often worked together. Don’s interests outside work were many. He enjoyed restoring old houses and once owned two lakefront vacation homes he had renovated on Lake Arrowhead. Fascinated by the history of World War II, later in life he traveled to Normandy and imagined making a movie about the war. Enthralled by the romance of sailing, he loved sailboats, boat shows, and fixing up vessels. He also liked old cars and once owned a Model A Ford. Throughout their marriage Don and his wife shared a passion for the Dodgers. In 1958, after the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, the two attended the first home game of the season in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Don was equally dedicated to the USC Trojans football. In 1997, his life took a turn when he was seriously injured after a camera crane collapsed on a movie set during filming. He convalesced for two years before going back to work and filming his last movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Don was accepted as a member of the American Society of Cinematographers in 1984. He was also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He remained close to his mother, Mimi Harvey, all his life. She died 15 months before him at age 99. In his retirement years Don revived old friendships from his youth in Hermosa Beach, entertaining friends with a wit and lightness that seemed to come to him after his working days were behind him. Don also enjoyed precious time spent with his 10 grandchildren. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sally Peterman of Palos Verdes Estates; daughter and son-in-law, Diane and Robert Tschupp of Lafayette, Colorado; sons and daughters-in-law, Keith and Carol Peterman of Palos Verdes Estates; Jay and Gloria Peterman of Fountain Valley; and Brad and Misa Peterman of Manhattan Beach; and his grandchildren, Noelle Tschupp of Denver; Natalie, Jeff, and Emily Peterman of Palos Verdes Estates; Tim, Michelle, and Kimmy Peterman of Fountain Valley; and Julien, Jasmin and Scarlett Peterman of Manhattan Beach. Don also leaves behind his cat, Flower, a constant companion. A memorial gathering will be held at 1 pm, Thursday, March 3rd, at St. Cross-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 1818 Monterey Blvd., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.Memorial contributions may be made to St. Cross-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, or to Heal the Bay, www.healthebay.org/secure/memorial-tribute.

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  1. Don was one of the good guys and always a great pleasure to work with. May God Bless and Comfort all of the Peterman family.

  2. My condolences to all the family. I had the pleasure of working with Don off and on for several years doing commericals with Bob Eggers at Eggers Films. I enjoyed very much working with Don, he was always the professional and yet was always available to answer any questions I might have as I was fairly new to the biz. I admired Don and felt he was one of the nicest guys I’d ever met. I worked too with Don, Keith and Jay and could see how important family was to Don. Don will be missed by all whos lives he touched. I truely regreat the passing of such a wonder person. God Bless you Donnie.

  3. I grew up in Palos Verdes Estates with the Peterman family, going to school with his son Keith. I also had the pleasure to work at Technicolor (film processing) for many years, and Don Peterman was a name that was well known and respected within our industry. Don will surely be missed. Condolences to the Peterman family. Kevin Buchanan

  4. I was so so sorry to hear about Don … and I’ll think of his sweet and sometimes mischievous smile behind the camera. I know how he loved his family and how you’ll all miss him.

  5. It was my pleasure to work with Don for many years in the commercial side of the film business. I can’t even begin to mention all of the things that I learned from him and still use to this day. His love of family was always evident and an inspiration. He will always hold a very special place in my treasured memories and all the more so since I have learned of his love of animals. Donnie, we will all miss you.

  6. Our Condolences to the Peterman Family. A Great Cameraman, you will be missed. Local 600 International Cinematographers Guild

  7. Hi Sally, Maureen Melvin here. I was stunned and so sorry to hear about Donny’s death. What a great guy he was and so integral to all of our success at Eggers Films. Don had the greatest laugh. I was thinking about that today. He laughed easily and we just had so much fun at Eggers all working together for all those years: Bob, Donny, Sterling, myself….Bob relied on his talent and expertise to make sure “the client” was happy next day in those crucial dailies. You and your kids are in my prayers and I will see you at the service. Best, Maureen.

  8. To all of the Peterman’s … My thoughts are with you and yours as you remember and honor your husband, father, and grandfather, Don. His influence has been so much a part of our family’s life as we came to know him thru Keith – who had been a friend (and occasionally a co-worker) to my son, Fred. It is the greats of the Industry that have inspired so many young people to take the risk of making their life’s work the Creative Arts. Many, many thinks to you all and your beloved husband and father for the example he set for so many of our children and grandchildren. With so much love from all of the Toye family to all of the Peterman family …. Sigrid :’

  9. Hi Donnie, I bet you didn’t know what a crush I had on you when I was young. Being the youngest of all my cousins, I was usually treated like a kid; (especially by my sister!), but you were always so nice to me. Your sweet smile, and that contagious laugh always got us all going! As an adult, the amazing example you & Sally set for prioritizing your family, had an impact on me. It was one I aspired to. I know you’re in good company where you are now. We’re just all going to miss you so much! Please give my love to them all, and a big kiss & hug to you. Until next time… Cindy

  10. Donnie is such a large part of my life and I have and will always have such fond memories of staying with Sally and Donnie in P.V. as well as in Hawaii when I was eighteen. Donnie’s laugh was so contagious and cute and the way he would arch one eyebrow as he giggled will always stay in my memory. He was the ideal father and husband and his kindness and generosity and presence in our family is precious to me. I’ll miss him from now on, but I am grateful to know that he is in very good company, wherever he is. He had a wonderful life because he was such a wonderful man.

  11. I am so sad to hear that Donnie is no longer with us. I am so thankful that I was able to see him, Sally and Keith just last year when I was working in L.A. I will cherish our beautiful lunch at Trump’s golf course, and Donnie’s amazing hospitality. I send my love and comfort to all the Peterman’s. My best to you all, Kate

  12. So sorry to hear about Donnie. I remember he was always so fun and had a childlike innocence about him. The Eternal Beachkid who was good at whatever he did. We will miss you dearly until we meet again

  13. You were a great friend and always will be in our memories. Par-t-Pac cola,Lays potato chips on your lawn with Sally,Keith, Gayle and Jeri. Nights with the group under the Catamarans at 21st Street.

  14. I was so saddened to hear about Donny’s death. He was one of the truest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. My heart goes out to Sally and her children at this great time of saddness. May Jehovah keep you in his memory until we see you again. Love Danielle

  15. Sally, Im so sorry to hear of your loss of Donny.He was a dear friend of my parents and admired by my brother Denny.You,your children and grandchildren are in my heart and prayers.With Love, Amy

  16. The true measure of a man’s success is in how he lived his life and reared his family. Don’s success is evident in his wonderful children and grandchildren. I am fortunate enough to be close friends with Keith & Carol, et al, and am witness to Don’s influence and strength in character. Love, Cheri

  17. The service was absolutely beautiful, and the day was uplifting as we all shared memories of Don. I will always remember his twinkling blue eyes and pure, joyous laugh. My love to all of you, Jody

  18. To the Peterman Family: I had the extreme honor of working with Don on MJY. I found out he lived in PV and I told him I grew up there and we became fast “movie” friends. He was such a WONDERFUL guy….just an all round gem. I am so sorry for your loss and will remember him always.

  19. Dear Sally & Family, I was blessed to have worked with Don on Mighty Joe Young. He was truely the most kindest man you could ever meet. HE always saw the bright side and made me smile. I am only sorry that we never crossed paths again. He also worked with my father when they were young (Dennis Parrish). My father and I both send our most heart felt sympathies. WIth respect and Love, Hope Parrish

  20. It was a pleasure to work with such a nice man and a true professional. The Industry lost a great talent on March the third…

  21. It was a pleasure to work with such a nice man and a true professional. The Industry lost a great talent on March the third…

  22. It was a pleasure to work with such a nice man and a true professional. The Industry lost a great talent on March the third…

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