March 8, 2011

In Memoriam: Eugene Moriarty

SCA Alumnus/Lecturer and WWII Veteran

Eugene Moriarty

USC School of Cinematic Arts alumnus and lecturer Eugene Moriarty ‘47 passed away on March 2, due to complications from cancer. He was 91.

“Gene was one of our oldest and most loyal alums, and it was always a pleasure to see him at the many events he attended,”said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “His efforts during his time here served as both foundation and inspiration for the SCA family members who came after him. He will be truly missed.”

Moriarty was born in 1919 in Chicago, Illinois, and graduated from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. He attended the University of Maryland, where he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves. After transferring to the University of Southern California, he was called into active duty and sent to Quantico, where he was tasked with creating training films for the Marine Corps, which he did for five years. He later served on the aircraft carrier The Block Island throughout the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre.

Moriarty was a member of the so-called “Unholy Five”, a group that included Herb Farmer, Dave Johnson, Mel Sloan and Dan Wiegand, who were all instrumental in the formation of SCA’s curriculum and expansion of its infrastructure. In a 2008 interview with Michael Goldman, Moriarty recalled the experience.

“Whatever it was, we had everything covered. We all worked together and we were continually looking for placed to make movies, preferably subsidized, because we didn’t have much money,” said Moriarty. “We tried to crank out a newsreel every week and show it to the students, because it gave us a chance to photograph.”

That desire to keep finding new ways to capture images was also evident during Moriarty’s time on The Block Island, where he and Wiegand designed a special camera to record hits from the planes in action.

“Dan and I worked and rigged a special gunny-camera so that when they fired the rockets or machine guns, there was a delayed action and angle, and he was able to photograph the hits. It was late in the war, but it was the first shots of airplanes actually striking the target,” said Moriarty.

In addition to serving as a cinematography lecturer at SCA during his time as a student, and after WWII up until 1955, Moriarty was the Chairman of the Board of BOMI improving the curriculum for the RPA exam; the President of the Santa Ana Bicentennial Committee in 1976; member of the Navy League; and an employee of CJ Segerstrom & Sons from 1963 up until his death.

In the Goldman interview, Moriarty spoke about how his training and time at SCA influenced his subsequent career moves.

“As I moved on into national sales management, in doing presentations and becoming successful, I realized that the way I worked is what I learned at cinema,” said Moriarty. “We always say, long shot, medium shot, close-up, you know, state your case…the concept of making a film so that people understand your character development, so if you carry that into business and your thinking process, it makes you much more efficient.”

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth Ann Segerstrom Moriarty, sons Richard and Donald Moriarty, daughter Jeanne Moriarty and grandchildren Trenton, Cole and Grace Moriarty. Services will be held on March 9, 2011 at Fairhaven Cemetery in Santa Ana, California at 2:30PM.