Ken Burns

Film Director / Actor / Screenwriter / Film Producer / Cinematographer | * 07/29/1953 (66) | Brooklyn, New York, USA
Kenneth Lauren Burns (born 1953) is an American filmmaker, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films. His widely known documentary series include The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009), Prohibition (2011), The Roosevelts (2014), The Vietnam War (2017), and Country Music (2019). He was also executive producer of both The West (1996, directed by Stephen Ives), and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies (2015, directed by Barak Goodman). Burns' documentaries have earned two Academy Award nominations (for 1981's Brooklyn Bridge and 1985's ()
Photo of Ken Burns

Celebrated American documentarian who gradually amassed a considerable reputation and a devoted audience with a series of reassuringly traditional meditations on Americana. Burns' works are treasure troves of archival materials; he skillfully utilizes period music and footage, photographs, periodicals and ordinary people's correspondence, the latter often movingly read by seasoned professional actors in a deliberate attempt to get away from a "Great Man" approach to history. Like most non-fiction filmmakers, Burns wears many hats on his projects, often serving as writer, cinematographer, editor and music director in addition to producing and directing. He achieved his apotheosis with The Civil War (1990), a phenomenally popular 11-hour documentary that won two Emmys and broke all previous ratings records for public TV. The series' companion coffee table book--priced at a hefty $50--sold more than 700,000 copies. The audio version, narrated by Burns, was also a major best-seller. In the final accounting, "The Civil War" became the first documentary to gross over $100 million. Not surprisingly, it has become perennial fund-raising programming for public TV stations around the country. Burns arrived upon the scene with the Oscar-nominated Brooklyn Bridge (1981), a nostalgic chronicle of the construction of the fabled edifice. The film was more widely seen when rebroadcast on PBS the following year. Though Burns has made other nonfiction films for theatrical release, notably an acclaimed and ambiguous portrait of Depression-era Louisiana governor Huey Long (1985), PBS would prove to be his true home. He cast a probing eye on such American subjects as The Statue of Liberty (1985), The Congress (1988) (PBS), painter Thomas Hart Benton (1988) (PBS) and early radio with Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991) (PBS). Burns returned to long-form documentary with his most ambitious project to date, an 18-hour history of Baseball (1994), which aired on PBS in the fall of 1994. He approached the national pastime as a template for understanding changes in modern American society. Ironically, this was the only baseball on the air at the time, as the players and owners were embroiled in a bitter strike.

Most frequent genres for this person: Documentaries | History | News

Known for these Movies & Shows

Awards & Nominations for Ken Burns

Lincoln Prize National Humanities Medal Emmy Award Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award Charles Frankel Prize Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Jefferson Lecture Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Documentaries Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay

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Movies with Ken Burns as Actor(1)

TV Shows/Series with Ken Burns as Actor(6)

Movies with Ken Burns as Crew(30)

Directing/Director2019 Muhammad Ali
Writing/Writer2019 Muhammad Ali
Directing/Director2016 Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War
Production/Executive Producer2016 Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War
Crew/Thanks2014 Interstellar
Directing/Director2014 The Address
Directing/Director2012 The Central Park Five
Writing/Screenplay2012 The Central Park Five
Directing/Director2010 Baseball: The Tenth Inning
Writing/Writer2010 Baseball: The Tenth Inning
Directing/Director2002 Mark Twain
Production/Producer2002 Mark Twain
Camera/Director of Photography2002 Mark Twain
Directing/Director1989 Thomas Hart Benton
Production/Producer1989 Thomas Hart Benton
Directing/Director1989 The Congress
Directing/Director1985 The Statue of Liberty
Production/Producer1985 The Statue of Liberty
Directing/Director1985 Huey Long
Production/Producer1985 Huey Long
Directing/Director1981 Brooklyn Bridge
Crew/Cinematography1981 Brooklyn Bridge

TV Shows/Series with Ken Burns as Crew(28)

Production/Producer2019 Dress Blues
Production/Executive Producer2019 Dress Blues
Production/Executive Producer2019 Country Music
Directing/Director2019 Country Music
Directing/Director2016 Jackie Robinson
Production/Producer2012 The Dust Bowl
Directing/Director2012 The Dust Bowl
Directing/Director2011 Prohibition
Production/Executive Producer2011 Prohibition
Production/Executive Producer2008 The War
Directing/Director2008 The War
Production/Producer2001 Jazz
Directing/Director2001 Jazz
Directing/Director1997 Thomas Jefferson
Production/Executive Producer1996 The West
Writing/Writer1994 Baseball
Directing/Director1994 Baseball
Production/Producer1994 Baseball
Crew/Cinematography1961 Supercar
Production/Executive Producer1961 Supercar

Additional Information

Official websites:
Full Name: Ken Burns
Born: Wednesday, 07/29 1953 (July) in Brooklyn (current age: 66 years + 205 days)
Zodiac sign: Leo (Chinese zodiac sign: Snake)
Languages: English (EN)
Educated at: Pioneer High School, Hampshire College
Member of: American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Children: Sarah Burns
Other names for Ken Burns (nicknames, foreign languages etc.):
"Kenneth Lauren Burns"
Ken Burns frequently works together with these people:
Dayton Duncan (13x, Crew)
Geoffrey C. Ward (12x, Crew)
Lynn Novick (9x, Crew)
Tom Hanks (8x, Actor)
John Lithgow (7x, Actor)
Peter Coyote (7x, Actor)
Adam Arkin (7x, Actor)
Stephen Colbert (7x, Actor)
Jon Stewart (7x, Actor)
Amy Stechler (7x, Crew)
Samuel L. Jackson (6x, Actor)
David McCullough (6x, Actor)
WatchPlayStream ID: PEOPLE:11953, Added: 05/06/2018, Last updated: 02/14/2020