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 William Yale Wilson  (1927 - 2013)

About: William Yale Wilson


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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: film maker, advertising art, painting

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BIOGRAPHY for William Wilson
1927 (La Grande, Illinois)
2013 (Lakeview, Illinois)


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film maker, advertising art, painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, submitted by Gene Meier, is the obituary of the artist from the Chicago Daily Tribune, July 17, 2013.

William Yale Wilson 1927-2013
Artist worked in advertising industry, movie business
Helped Hollywood producers shoot films in Chicago
by Graydon Megan

Long before a Transformers movie turned Michigan avenue into a cinematic scene of devastation, William Yale Wilson was providing movie and television show production resources so Hollywood producers could use Chicago as a backdrop.

"In the early 1980s, Yale was one of the few production outfitters working in the beginning of Chicago's modern involvement in film production," said Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Wilson also was an artist who signed his paintings simply "Yale".

He worked for many years in the advertising business in Chicago, learning both the creative and production sides of writing and producing television commercials.

"As producers came to Chicago on the heels of movies such as The Blues Brothers, I think Yale saw it as a business opportunity and a well-timed one at that,"Moskal said.

Mr.Wilson, 86, died of complications of Parkinson's disease Thursday, July 11, in the Lakeview home where he had lived for about 10 years, according to his wife of 41 years Susan Knox Wilson.

Mr.Wilson grew up in La Grande and graduated from Lyons Township High School. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, he returned to Chicago where he soon recognized that selling his paintings would not provide the steady income he needed to support a growing family.

He managed to get into an apprentice program with the Chicago advertising agency then known as Foote, Cone & Belding. Until the mid-1960s, he continued to work in advertising as an art director, copywriter and creative director, putting together commercials for network television.

In the late 1960s, he established his own production company. With his understanding of both the artistic and business aspects of film and video production, he developed and taught a course on production management at Columbia College in Chicago.

He also wrote a monthly industry magazine column on shooting commercials and helped put together production workshops for advertizing agency professionals, his wife said.

In 1981, he formed Midcoast Producers Services to provide equipment and services for Hollywood producers looking to shoot stories on location in Chicago.

Moskal, who worked as a location scout and later as a staff member with the Illinois Film Office, said Mr. Wilson and his company helped visiting producers line up crews and facilities, connect with caterers and find cranes and other specialized equipment.

"He knew the landscape well, and he was somebody producers trusted to get the job done when they came to Chicago,"Moskal said.

"Chicago was an undiscovered gem, as producers began to see not only how well Chicago looked on film, but what production resources were available here,"Moskal added.

Knox Wilson said her husband assisted with logistics for more than two dozen features and made-for-television movies. Mr.Wilson worked on projects in the early 1980s that included Risky Business with Tom Cruise, Bad Boys with Sean Penn and the television series Chicago Story.

Around 1990 Knox Wilson said her husband "retired back to being an artist."

He completely renovated a big old house in the Palmer Square/Logan Square neighborhood, turning the 1,200-square-foot top floor into his studio.

Knox Wilson described her husband's art as representational and organic, with recognizable elements from nature and people done mostly in colors found in nature. He exhibited his work in rented gallery spaces and sold his work there and from his home.

"A true artist,"said friend Valerie Gobos, who owns two of Mr. Wilson's paintings.

Mr.Wilson is also survived by sons William Jr., David, Michael and Patrick; daughters Nancy Smith and Julie Moreno, a sister, Lucia Salvador;and six grandchildren.

Three previous marriages ended in divorce.

A memorial service is being planned.

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