PASSINGS: Mike deGruy, Zalman King

Mike deGruy

Award-winning nature cinematographer

Mike deGruy, 60, an award-winning marine scientist and nature cinematographer best known for documentaries featuring underwater footage that brought viewers up close to sea creatures, plants and geographical features, died Saturday in a helicopter crash in eastern Australia, National Geographic said.

Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight, 52, also died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed soon after takeoff from an airstrip near Nowra, 97 miles north of Sydney.


DeGruy, a Santa Barbara resident, produced and directed documentary films primarily about the ocean. An accomplished diver and submersible pilot who spent many hours filming deep beneath the sea, he was the director of undersea photography for James Cameron’s 2005 “Last Mysteries of the Titanic.”

Born Dec. 29, 1951, in Mobile, Ala., DeGruy earned a bachelor’s in marine zoology from North Carolina State University and did graduate work in marine biology at the University of Hawaii. He worked at a marine lab in the Marshall Islands before becoming a nature cameraman.

While diving near the Marshall Islands in 1978, DeGruy was attacked by a gray reef shark that tore off part of his right arm, but he was undeterred by the 11 operations, skin grafts and tendon transfers he endured.

He shot film for documentaries and later began producing and hosting the films that ran on the BBC, PBS, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

He shared an Emmy Award and another from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for cinematography in 2002 for his work on Discovery’s “Blue Planet: Seas of Life” program.

Zalman King

Writer-producer of ‘9 1/2 Weeks’

Zalman King, 70, who became one of the best-known erotic filmmakers in Hollywood after writing and producing “9 1/2 Weeks,” died Friday at his home in Santa Monica, said his son-in-law Allison Burnett. He had cancer.

Born Zalman King Lefkowitz in Trenton, N.J., on May 23, 1941, he studied anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa and worked as a commercial diver before moving to Southern California with his wife, Patricia Louisianna Knop, in the 1960s.

Beginning his career as an actor, he was a regular from 1969 until 1971 on the TV series “The Young Lawyers” and had guest roles on “Gunsmoke,” “Daniel Boone” and other shows. He also acted in movies including “The Ski Bum,” “Trip With the Teacher” and “The Passover Plot” and got his start as a producer on the Alan Rudolph films “Roadie” and “Endangered Species.”

King and Knop co-wrote the screenplay, along with Sarah Kernochan and Elizabeth McNeill, for “9 1/2 Weeks,” which became a cult hit in 1986, with Adrian Lyne directing and Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke starring.

King built on the success of the film at overseas box offices and in video rentals by writing and directing more movies in the erotic genre, including “Two Moon Junction” and “Wild Orchid.” He also became a writer, producer and director for the popular Showtime cable TV anthology series “The Red Shoes Diaries.”

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports