Paul Almond, the Canadian filmmaker behind Seven Up!, the first in the groundbreaking series of documentaries that follows the lives of the same group of people since they were children, has died. He was 83.
Almond, who had heart problems for several years, was hospitalized recently and died April 9 in the Malibu area, according to CBC News.
For Seven Up!, which was commissioned by Granada Television for the World in Action series and first broadcast on ITV in the U.K. in 1964, 10 boys and four girls, all aged 7, were filmed and interviewed about such subjects as religion, family, class and happiness.
Almond and Tim Hewitt came up with the idea in a pub after Hewitt mentioned the Jesuit saying, “Give me a child until he is 7, and I will give you the man.” Almond produced, directed and interviewed the kids for the 40-minute documentary.
Michael Apted, a researcher on Seven Up!, turned the one-off documentary into a series in which filmmakers would check in with the original kids every seven years. (Almond did not have a hand in the project after the first installment.) The latest of the eight documentaries, 56 Up, was released in 2012.
Almond was married to fellow Montreal native Genevieve Bujold from 1967 to 1973, and he directed the actress in the features Isabel (1968), Act of the Heart (1970), Journey (1976) and Final Assignment (1980).
Almond also helmed two installments of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as episodes of the half-hour children’s adventure series The Forest Rangers, which aired from 1963 to 1966 on the CBC and was Canada’s first television show produced in color.
Almond, who in 2001 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for “having demonstrated an outstanding level of talent and service to Canadians,” gave up filmmaking after 40 years to concentrate on writing books. His “Alford Saga” of eight books covers 200 years of Quebec, Canadian and world history.
Survivors include his wife, Joan.