We’re sad to report the passing of a close friend and pioneering documentarian.
Mike Gray was brilliant…a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker, steadfast in his beliefs and and absolutely creative every day of his life.
H. Michael Gray was born in Darlington, a small town in Indiana. He received an engineering degree from Purdue University, and came to Chicago in the early 1960s. He had lived and worked in Los Angeles since 1973.
He was the co-founder of the Chicago-Based Film Group, which included Howard Alk, William Cottle, James Dennett, Lars Hedman, Chuck Olin, and Mike Shea. These pioneering documentary producers chronicled the political violence of the 1960’s in many of their best known and most impactful works, including AMERICAN REVOLUTION II and THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON.
He went on to write and direct other important works of documentary and narrative, including the original screenplay for the four time Oscar nominated THE CHINA SYNDROME (1979). He authored several books, including The Warning: Accident at Three Mile Island (1982) with Ira Rosen; Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon (1992); Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out (1998); Busted: Stone Cowboys, Narco-Lords, and Washington’s War on Drugs (2002); and The Death Game: Capital Punishment and the Luck of the Draw (2003).
He had been working on a documentary following former Chicago Black Panther Robert E. Lee III, a community organizer trained by Saul Alinsky. A trailer for THE ORGANIZER was posted by Gray in 2011. He had also recently been working on a project that reunited him with Andy Davis and Haskell Wexler in Chicago during the 2012 NATO protests, a reflection of the formative effect 1968 Chicago had on all of their careers. Gray’s iconic footage of the 1968 police riots at the Democratic National Convention has been seen around the world.
Mike is survived by his wife, Carol, and son, Lucas. Our hearts and love go to them.
He will be missed.
Watch the full versions of American Revolution II and The Murder of Fred Hampton.