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Hector Ramirez, a camera operator with 20 Primetime Emmy Awards who spent more than a decade on Dancing With the Stars and worked on the Oscars and the Grammys, Elvis Presley and David Copperfield specials and Frank Sinatra, Sting and Cher concerts, has died. He was 78.
Ramirez died Wednesday in his home in Granada Hills after a battle with esophageal cancer, his wife, Alma Ramirez, told The Hollywood Reporter.
From 2005-15, Ramirez handled a Steadicam on the first 21 seasons of Dancing With the Stars — he collected five Emmys for that show and a mirror ball trophy given to him by producers — and for America’s Got Talent.
The Colombian native also shot the Kennedy Center Honors, the Grammys, the Tonys, the Emmys (Primetime and Daytime), the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the SAG Awards, AFI Life Achievement Award specials, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Kids’ Choice Awards and the People’s Choice Awards.
Ramirez was on the team that shared an Emmy in 2000 for the live telecast of Fail Safe for CBS that was produced by George Clooney, who also starred, and he was behind a camera for the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show that featured NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Aerosmith.
He worked The US Festival and We Are the World concerts and shows from The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand, The Eagles, Garth Brooks, Elton John, Justin Timberlake and Morrissey, to name but a few. He was a cameraman on This Is Spinal Tap (1984), too.
His wife noted that he received 74 Emmy nominations, one Daytime Emmy and one Lifetime Achievement Award (in 2019) from the Society of Camera Operators in addition to his Primetime trophies. Many of his honors are displayed in a (very crowded) cabinet at home.
Born in Bogota on Aug. 26, 1944, Ramirez came to the U.S. when he was 11 and lived with his family in Queens, where he went to Martin Van Buren High School.
After a year at Glendale City College, he attended the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts & Sciences in Hollywood and received his first-class FCC license, which was a requisite to work at a broadcast station, landing at Spanish-language KLXA Channel 40 in 1968.
His interest in becoming a TV cameraman was inspired by his friend Noel Newman, who was an ABC cameraman on The Hollywood Palace.
In 1973, Ramirez was hired at CBS Television City and shot such sitcoms as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Three’s Company and One Day at a Time and variety shows hosted by Carol Burnett, Sonny & Cher and Tony Orlando & Dawn.
He was the first news camera operator to film President Nixon’s return to San Clemente, California, after he resigned, his wife said. He left CBS in 1981 to freelance.
Ramirez also partied with Prince Albert in Monaco and trained a lens on Lily Tomlin, George Carlin, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Bob Hope, Patti LaBelle, Neil Diamond, Chris Rock and Prince Albert and for Whose Line Is It Anyway?, American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
In addition to his wife — they met at CBS, where she was a production supervisor, and married in July 1975 — survivors include son Dana, granddaughter Alaya, three brothers and a sister.
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