Bill Muster (1926-1989); photo circa 1950
"Man of Our Time" - International Teleproduction Society, 1988
Nuremberg Palace of Justice.
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 web series, The Capitol Days, by Bill Muster's daughter, Nori.* For two years after leaving Capitol, he worked at Ampex with marketing associate Piet Goedewaagen to popularize magnetic tape. They 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 the end of his life, Bill Muster ran a series of businesses from his 1930s-era studio building at 6900 Santa Monica Boulevard (Historic Route 66).* The building is an example of Depression era Art Deco, which was less decorative due to the hard economic times. It has bow truss roofs and was remodeled as a post-production studio in the 1980s and 1990s. Business run under that roof, along with senior business partner Richard Simonton included: the Los Angeles and Orange County music by Muzak franchise, California Communications, sound and lighting equipment rental company, and later studio; Pacific Network, Inc., selling intercom and telephone equipment to businesses; the Delta Queen Steamboat Company,* and the editorial offices of his travel book series for 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.*
Bill Muster helped his daughter survive and leave the Hare Krishna organization. He is depicted in her memoir, Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement.*
Bill Muster lived the last seventeen years of his life in his Skylark Lane modern home, in the hills above Sunset Strip. He died at home surrounded by family and friends January 3, 1989. The International Teleproduction Society named him "Man of our Time" in 1988, just weeks before his passing.
His main legacy is the Bill Muster Foundation, which supports photo journalism and travel photography, along with organizations that work for better communication and social justice.*
Click here for more links (at this site).
Write to Bill Muster's daughter, Nori: contact-at-norimuster-dot-com
Bill Muster at Wikipedia.