Bill Muster (1926-1989); photo circa 1950
Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg Trials were held.
Bill Muster discovered photography as a teenager, growing up in a foster home in
Chicago during World War II.
From November 1945 to December 1946, he served as a sergeant and aircrew member in the U.S.
Army Airforce in the U.S. and Germany. He was publicist, section head, and photo chief of
the base photo lab for the Ansbach Record, a weekly paper for American GIs in Germany.
Ansbach is just outside of Nuremberg, and he photographed the Nuremberg trials for the
Over the next four years, he worked his way through college at the University of Illinois with freelance writing and photography, the GI Bill, and summers jobs at Alexander & Associates of Chicago, a creative service agency, as a staff photographer. He photographed the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948 and 1949, and the Chicago Fair of 1950.
At the University of Illinois he was photo chief and associate editor of the University of Illinois yearbook and Illini daily newspaper. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity. For the first three years after college he was a writer, editor, photographer, and bureau manager for Acme Photo (later United Press International).
For the next six years after that, he was a merchandising manager at Capitol Records. His work at Capitol is covered in the book, The Capitol Days, by Bill Muster's daughter, Nori Muster. For two years after leaving Capitol, he worked for Ampex to organize a successful campaign to popularize magnetic tape. He used his Hollywood connections to secure contracts with record companies to market their vinyl LPs as reel-to-reel tapes. In the process, Ampex sold lots of tape players.
From 1961 to his death in 1989, Bill Muster ran a series of businesses with his senior business partner, Richard Simonton. Companies nurtured under the bow truss roof of the 1930s-era studio building at 6900 Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of old Hollywood included: the Los Angeles and Orange County music by Muzak franchise, California Communications post-production studios, Pacific Network, Inc. equipment sales and rental company, the Delta Queen Steamboat company, and the editorial offices of his travel book series, the Rand McNally World Traveler's Almanac.
One of the greatest honors he received in his lifetime was when the Society for American Travel Writers (SATW) bestowed the Marco Polo Award on him in 1988. They also named their photo contest after him for his effort in developing the show. It is now known as the Muster Photo Competition.
Another component of his legacy is the Bill Muster Foundation that supports photo journalism and travel photography, along with a long list of organizations that work for greater communication, and social justice.
Bill Muster also played a role in his daughter's memoir of her ten years as a member of the Hare Krishna movement. He stood by her and helped her leave the organization when she was ready.
The International Teleproduction Society voted Bill Muster "Man of our Time" in 1988, just weeks before he died peacefully at his Skylark Lane home of seventeen years, surrounded by friends and relatives. We salute you Bill Muster, an inspiration to many, wherever you are.
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Bill Muster at Wikipedia.org