Robert Carl Cohen
Robert Carl Cohen has a professional career spanning almost 60 years as a filmmaker, foreign correspondent, public lecturer and author. Born in Philadelphia in 1930, he moved with his parents to Los Angeles in 1939, earning his BA in Art and MA in Motion Pictures at UCLA.
His master’s thesis film, a 10-minute documentary depicting the genetic-environmental basis for human skin color differences, later became the basis for his first book, The Color of Man. Published by Random House in 1971 and Bantam in 1973, it was adopted as a text by the California State Department of Education. It remains the only popular science book on the subject.
As a US Army conscript, Bob served as a cameraman at Ft. Monmouth NJ and at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Paris. After military service he studied for a Doctorate in Social Psychology at the Sorbonne. While an observer at the Sixth World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957, he was hired by NBC-TV to accompany and film a group of young Americans visiting China in defiance of the State Department’s travel ban.
Returning home, he began a series of public film-lectures about China, and then produced Inside Red China, a nationally syndicated TV special for which he received a letter of commendation from the office of Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles in 1961.
In addition to being the first US journalist to film in China, the popularity of his film lectures led to his being the first American permitted by East German authorities to film there in 1959. And in 1963-64 he became the first American to receive both US State Department and Cuban Foreign Ministry authorization to film in Cuba.
Back in Los Angeles in 1967, he produced Mondo Hollywood, a two-hour color documentary, banned by the French Government in 1968 as “a danger to mental health.” Having become a psychedelic cult classic a half-century after it was made, Mondo Hollywood was honored by a special screening as part of the American Film Institute’s 2014 Festival.
The father of daughters Dianna and Julia, he and his wife Kim have lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1993, where he continues to write, give public lectures and produce documentaries. His videos are viewable at http://www.radfilms.com/. and also at Snagfilms, Hulu-Plus, YouTube and Amazon.