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Chicago, Illinois 60616
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Frank Koza Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2012-03
Preservation Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities;Dennis Ginosi and Kathleen Prendergast;Larry Shulman
Extent of collection
2,201 rolls of 16mm film totaling approximately 530,625 feet; 7 rolls of 35mm film totaling approximately 2700 feet; 1 roll of 8mm film totaling approximately 400 feet; and 1 roll of Super 8mm film totaling approximately 25 feet.
Inclusive Dates
1935 - 1989
These film materials consist of news footage Frank Koza shot from the mid 1930s through the late 1980s. They contain local, national and international news events.
Koza, Frank (was created by)
Frank Koza was born and raised in Cleveland, living on Daisy Avenue and attending St. Procop Catholic school on West 41st. He was an usher at the Lyceum Theater (formerly on Fulton Road), and while attending Lincoln High School in Cleveland, Frank got a job as the advertising manager for Lincoln’s lunch period movies. As he continued to learn the movie business, he soon became chief movie operator. After graduation Frank became lead machine operator, head set-up and daytime supervisor for the turret lathe section at the Marion Instrument Company.

Upon an inquiry from his dad, Frank responded to a job advertisement in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for a theater manager at the Telenews Theater (241 Euclid Ave.). Frank not only ran the theater but also managed the Telenews Lounge, an exhibit hall located underneath the Telenews Theater, editing the theatrical newsreels to put together a one hour news reel show. During this time, Frank coordinated a war bond drive with Sid Luckman, pro football player, and Benny Leonard, pro boxer, and in two days, raised over two million dollars in war bond sales. The exhibits promoted the military, employment for war factories and materials made in Cleveland that were used by the military.

Frank also oversaw two large, successful exhibits. The first one was when the Navy wanted to introduce the '25 man life raft' which was to be used on the naval ships. The Navy wanted to use 25 seamen to promote the life raft, however, Frank insisted on using 25 Waves along with one Seaman. The Navy was so pleased with the results of the news coverage that they left the display up for two weeks and it helped increased Naval enlistments. The second large exhibit promoted a company that needed employees to work all shifts, and within two weeks, all positions were filled.

It was also during these young adult years in Cleveland that Frank became the president of Ginger Rogers' Fan Club. The personally autographed 8x10 (that he got from her later in life as a cameraman) of Ginger to Frank remained one of his most cherished possessions - always on his dresser. He was her biggest fan and he valued their friendship!

While working at the Telenews Theater, Frank met cameraman, Basil Picone, who was the photographer for the exhibit hall. Basil gave Frank the "photographic start" to his cameraman career. Frank's first camera was a 4x5 Speedgraphic (used by newspaper photographers). He shot weddings, bar mitzvahs and the like. Frank then purchased a 35mm Eyemo camera that he used to shoot news stories for the shows, which were highlighted on the theater marquee with stories such as the Soap Box Derby, bomber plane production at the Bomber Plant (now the IX Center in Cleveland, Ohio), and other special events.

In July of 1948 Frank worked as an electrician during the International Alliance Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) convention being held at Cleveland Public Hall. At this convention, the Business Agent for the Cameraman’s union gave him the application for membership into the union. In October, Frank was sworn in as a member of International Photographers Union, Local 666, on stage at Public Hall. While still managing the theater Frank would cover major news stories from around the area that were used in the theatrical newsreels at the following studios: Paramount News, News of the Day, Movietone News, Universal News Reel and Pathe News. Eventually Hearst Metro Telenews decided to put out its own newsreel. It was at that time when Hearst Metro Telenews assigned Frank to Korea as a war correspondent to replace a cameraman killed in action. While in Korea Frank covered the bombing of Chinese Troops coming across the Yalu River and interviewed Admiral Ewen after the first navy pilot shot down a Chinese mig aircraft.

When General Macarthur presented Korea back to Sighmond Rhee (Ruler of South Korea) in Seoul the jeep assigned to Frank was taken. He then had to ride sitting on the spare tire of another writer's jeep for 14 long miles. He had to carry his very heavy camera gear and film in order to make the military shuttle back to Japan so the film could get to New York. At that time it took two and one half days of flight time to make the trip to New York from Tokyo.

After returning from Korea, Frank declined a New York staff assignment and went on to Washington DC with Hearst Metro Telenews. This is when he and President Harry S Truman became very good friends as Frank worked with Truman regularly. As the pool cameraman (which means one photographer is selected to photograph an event and the pictures are then distributed to the various news media and newspapers) Frank covered Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to America and meeting with President Truman at the Canadian Embassy (just prior to her coronation). Another major coverage of President Truman was at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Baltimore. Frank was the only cameraman to film Harry Truman’s announcement that he would not be a presidential candidate in the 1952 elections.

Frank then moved to Chicago to open a film office to cover national stories and be lead photographer on the Adali E. Stevenson presidential campaign. From this office Frank also covered all the missile shots at Cape Kennedy (formerly Cape Canaveral) including the Grapefruit, the very first missile launched into space and all space launches through Apollo 11. Other events covered by Frank included: Akron Soap Box Derbies, Indianapolis 500’s, Kentucky Derbies, many baseball training camps, World Series and All-Star baseball games, NFL football games, including the first Superbowl game held in Green Bay, WI, and numerous college football games as well as bowl games.

In 1957 Frank was assigned to shoot a documentary film on Frank Lloyd Wright for the United States Information Agency (USIA). It was in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright's 90th birthday and was filmed in Spring Green, WI. One of the interesting things Frank learned about Mr. Wright was that most of his designs were created and built from a seated position. While taking a picture of a room in the house from a seated position, Mr. Wright wanted to know what he was doing. Frank said that taking a picture from this position was the way it looked best for the picture. Mr. Wright laughed and indicated that this is how he designed the room, from a seated position!

In 1959, while filming the Sugarbowl in New Orleans, Frank was called at halftime with an urgent assignment. He flew to Miami where he caught a charter flight to Cuba to retrieve camera equipment that belonged to a cameraman who had been killed. Approaching the airport, the plane was shot upon and the pilot turned the plane back to Miami. The pilot then learned that the firing was a mistake and Castro requested the plane to return to Cuba. The pilot refused to fly back to Cuba, so Frank got there by another charter. He rented an old car and drove 250 miles to meet with Castro, dodging guns and fury. Upon showing his White House Credential, he was permitted to travel and meet Castro without any further incidents. When they met, Castro put his arms around Frank and said, "I heard that you had troubles!" Castro told Frank of the photography equipment. This extra equipment worked out great for Frank. He had his 35mm silent camera but now with a sound camera and amplifier to use, Frank was able to do an in-depth interview with Castro which was used for syndication - a first for American news.

In 1964 Frank was sworn in as President of the International Photographer's Union, Local 666 - Central Division, a position he held for 14 years. The next 10 years Frank served as the Business Agent for the Union (now local 600). Frank continued on with Telenews until 1968 at which time he became a freelance cameraman. As a freelance cameraman, Frank worked with the three major networks, NBC, ABC and CBS covering major news stories.

One of Frank’s more memorable stories is the morning he spent with Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. Mayor Daley was speaking to different groups and Frank was a part of the motorcade covering the events. Mayor Daley went to a doctor’s appointment while the film crew went to lunch at the Press Club. During lunch Frank received an emergency phone call from the news desk stating that Mayor Daley had passed away at the doctor’s office. He was asked to stay with Mayor Daley for coverage of the death. He also covered Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt's visit to Chicago and the 25 year premiere event of 'Gone With The Wind' in Atlanta, GA.  He shot coverage of the League of Women Voter’s in Pittsburgh for the USIA; Mardi Gras (for 30 consecutive years); the Cleveland Air Races (including the crash and death of pilot Bill Odum); Cleveland Air shows; the Cleveland Clinic’s X-Ray section fire; the plane crash at Midway Airport; coverage of Lyndon Bird Johnson in Pittsburgh; NET coverage at the White House; Little Brothers of the War for USIA; the USIA convention; Olympic Games; the grand opening of Disney World; many Democratic and Republican conventions; natural disasters; Canton Hall of Fame football games; World Series of Golf; dedication and opening of the Air Force Academy in Colorado; Pan Am games; numerous major film movie premieres held throughout the country; and too many more to list.

Frank retired as a cameraman in 1992. He resided in Chicago for over 54 years. He was veteran member of the Queen of All Saints Basilica since 1952, and was a loyal friend to Father Dolan who envisioned and led the way for QAS to become a Basilica They spent many hours of personal time together. At QAS he served as an usher, a member of the 'Over 50 Club' and the Men’s Club.

Frank was a gold card lifetime member of the IATSE; lifetime member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineer (SMPTE) and the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) and National Rifle Association (NRA), member of White House News Photographer’s Association and the Cleveland Newspaper and Newsreel Photographer’s Association. In March, 2006 Frank was knighted at fourth degree by the Knight of Columbus.

Frank is preceded in death by his wife Helen (nee Kokoszka), his parents Frank J. Sr., Albina (nee Prokop) and brothers Roland L. and Thomas P. who were both also in the motion picture business. Survived by his Goddaughter Denise (nee Picone) Gelofsack and siblings Patricia (nee Picone) Patena and Michael Picone, and was stepfather to Roberta (George) Rowlette.
Custodial History
These film materials were created and collected by Koza over the years. He gifted the entire collection of newsreel and personal films to CFA in April, 2012.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Rights can be determined on a case-by-case basis
Koza, Frank
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