STRONG, Robert Glenn

From Islapedia

STRONG, Robert Glenn (c. 1904-1935), assistant cameraman killed on the set of Mutiny on the Bounty at San Miguel Island in July 1935. The film was the 1936 Oscar Winner for Best Picture of the Year. San Miguel Island was used to portray certain remote areas of Pitcairn Island. Preplanted palms were set about within camera range, and according to Elizabeth Lester:

“Tahitian ladies were encamped in one area, while mutineers were camped in another, while the business end of the filming remained mostly at sea trying to keep from capsizing and losing precious time and equipment.”

While most scenes on board H.M.S. Bounty and HMS Pandora were shot on board the vessels at sea, the scenes of Bligh and his crew in the open longboat were shot in a tank at MGM on the mainland. On July 25, 1935 a 95.6 ft. x 34.4 ft. flat bottomed barge fitted up to resemble HMS Pandora was being towed back to Adams Cove on San Miguel Island after the completion of shooting. A blast of wind struck the barge near Point Bennett and the vessel capsized, causing the 75 film crew on board to be thrown into the water before it sank. Second unit assistant cameraman, Glenn Strong, tragically drowned while trying to retrieve a camera mounted on the vessel's superstructure. $50,000 of vital equipment was lost with the barge.

Heavy weather and the drowning death of cameraman Glenn Strong forced abandonment of the project, which moved to Santa Catalina Island. Stars Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone didn’t visit San Miguel Island. [Lester 1974: 62].

Strong was born in Kansas. In 1922 he married Ila Mae Lesher in San Diego, and their only child was born in San Bernardino in 1925:

In the News~

July 26, 1935 [SHNY]: “Movie barge sinks at sea; one missing. MGM cameraman lost when ‘set’ of Clark Gable film goes down. Loss set at $50,000. Accident occurs 50 miles off Santa Barbara at San Miguel Island. Divers and salvage men were rushed today to San Miguel Island… to search for the body of Glenn Strong, assistant cameraman, who was lost when heavy seas late yesterday foundered an 80-foot barge fitted up to represent the British warship, Pandora. Strong was one of a movie company of about 75, including cameramen, technical experts, ship’s crew and studio attaches at work in the picture, Mutiny on the Bounty, in which the warship Pandora figures.”

July 27, 1935 [Motion Picture Daily]: “Cameraman lost as Bounty shop sinks. Hollywood, July 26 — Glenn Strong, an assistant cameraman on location with the Mutiny on the Bounty company was found to be missing when the ship on which he was working sank off the coast of San Miguel Island. Seventy-five persons who were on board the ship at the time of the mishap were rescued. Clark Gable, Franchot Tone and Charles Laughton, principals in the production, were ashore at the time.”

August 14, 1935 [San Bernardino Sun]: “U.S. probe into Strong death seen. Federal investigation of the sinking of a motion picture barge which took the life of Glenn Strong, former resident of San Bernardino, was considered probable yesterday by the United States Attorney Peirson M. Hall of Los Angeles. Hall said the bureau of navigation at Washington, D.C., probably would send experts to the coast to make an intensive study of facts concerning the tragedy off San Miguel Island in which Strong lost his life. It was declared by Hall that the bureau of navigation was considering sending divers down to the sunken hulk to determine whether all safety requirements were met. The barge was being used at the time of the mishap for the filming of scenes from Mutiny on the Bounty, and at the time was carrying 75 players and technicians. All but Strong, who was serving as an assistant cameraman, were saved. Strong was a graduate of San Bernardino High School and had been in business in the city. He was the son of the late Dr. D. C. Strong and is survived by his widow, Mrs. Ida Strong, and a son, Robert Strong. For two days following the sinking of the barge, coast guard cutters combed the Pacific in the vicinity of San Miguel Island, searching for the body. Hope for its recovery finally was given up. Fellow workers of Strong gathered Sunday afternoon at the Wee Kirk of the Heather, Forest Lawn cemetery, Glendale, for a memorial service.”

September 14, 1935 [LAT]: “Film shooting to be resumed at tragedy scene. Santa Barbara, sept. 13. Undismayed by the tragedy which marked their shooting for the sound picture, Mutiny on the Bounty on San Miguel Island, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer today sent a camera squad under Director Havens back to the island for background shots to be used in a forthcoming marine picture. Two months ago a barge carrying a replica of the Pandora, one of the Mutiny picture ships, was swamped by heavy swells on the ocean side of the island. Cameraman Glenn Strong was drowned while twenty-five Santa Barbara State College youths and many extras from Hollywood were saved. Strong's body never has been recovered although islanders under a film concern employee have been patrolling the beach since the accident.”

September 17, 1935 [HTI]: “With the shadow of a jinx which has already cost one life sailing with them, a camera crew was on its way to San Miguel Island yesterday to complete background shots for the hoodoo picture, Mutiny on the Bounty. Work was suspended more than six weeks ago when a squall overwhelmed a camera barge and carried Glenn Strong, cameraman, to his death. The accident culminated a series of misfortunes in production of the picture. Except for background material the picture is complete.”