Faber, Marshall L., Sr.
Phoenix broadcast television pioneer and former Scottsdale businessman Marshall L. Faber, Sr., 95, died September 4, 2012, at his private-care residence in Friendswood, Texas. His career spanned seven decades of high accomplishment in television, motion pictures, and real estate. Marsh was a proud lifetime member of the International Cinematographers Guild and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. His work in film earned him the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle; top awards from the Columbus Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the DuPont Foundation; and scores of other honors. Marsh had photography in his DNA. He was born August 20, 1917, in Washington, D.C., the only child of Marshall and Margaret (Shaw) Faber. His parents perished soon after in the 1918 influenza epidemic; Marsh was raised by his grandparents, J.J. and Ida Faber. J.J., a well-known wet-plate portrait photographer (J.J. Faber Studios, est. 1882), introduced Marsh to photography on his 12th birthday with the gift of a 5x7 Seneca view camera. At 14, Marsh was already "in the business," working at the Columbia Photo Shop a block from the White House. By 15, he owned his first motion picture camera and was producing real-estate and medical films. At 17, Marsh was a recognized member of the Capitol Hill press corps. He was the first D.C. photographic correspondent for Newsweek and soon had photo credits in Time, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post.
In 1939, while filming for National Park College, Marsh met college publicist and journalism teacher Martha N. Mogan. They were married in Takoma Park, MD, on August 29, 1941, at the historic Trinity Episcopal Church, where his parents had been united three decades before. Marsh and Martha formed a life-long personal and business team. Throughout most of the 1940s, they owned Business Films, Inc., in Washington D.C., which produced more than 100 training films and theatre short subjects for the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, as well as award-winning films for universities, nonprofits (NRA, Ducks Unlimited), and commercial clients such as IBM, NBC, Metropolitan Life, and The Martin Company.
Marsh was one of the TV industry's first cameramen, learning the art in his spare time at the ground-breaking station W3XWT in D.C. By the late 1940s that unique skill set was in high demand across the country. Marsh moved the family to Phoenix and became the expert behind the camera at fledgling KPHO-TV, Arizona's first TV station. All programs were broadcast live from sign-on to midnight sign-off, and Marsh spent many long days bringing programming to the Valley. In 1953, Marsh accepted the challenge from McClatchy Broadcasting in Fresno, CA, to help design, build, and sign KMJ-TV Channel 24, Fresno's first station, onto the airwaves. Three years later, John C. Mullins, one of the entrepreneurs who started KPHO-TV Phoenix, asked Marsh to join him at Mullins Broadcasting's struggling new venture, station KBTV Channel 9 in Denver, CO. Marsh made the move to KBTV as a cameraman, soon becoming the station's Director of Photography and Operations Manager. In 1956, representing the TV industry, Marsh provided expert testimony to the Colorado Supreme Court in a landmark case that paved the way to allow sound-on-film cameras in the courtroom nationwide. In 1960, KBTV produced Expedition Colorado, a 13-week film series on the history of the State, which won several national awards, including an ABC Network First and the Gold Medal for the most original Western States program from TV Radio Mirror, the industry's leading magazine. As the cinematographer of the Expedition Colorado series, Marsh pioneered the use of the stills-in-motion technique now applied so effectively by Ken Burns and others.
In 1963, Marsh and Martha opened Marshall Faber Productions in Denver, creating hundreds more industrial, educational, and political campaign films. By the early 1970s, they had relocated the company to Scottsdale, where they continued to produce films and to vigorously champion the Arizona film industry. Many Marshall Faber Productions were shot against the backdrop of the Arizona desert, but Marsh's personal favorite was "The Lord's Prayer," a film of the sacred Christian prayer performed in sign language by Chief Shatka Bear-Step. This short film, produced for the Appaloosa Horse Club in 1972, was broadcast on 430 TV stations worldwide as a daily station sign-off.
Marsh and Martha embarked on a second career in the 1980s, establishing Scottsdale brokerage firm, Martha Faber Real Estate, another award-winning venture, which they operated well past their eightieth birthdays. They also collaborated on the textbook, Basic Real Estate, used by real estate schools nationwide. After Martha's death (February 25, 2006), Marsh kept his artistic talents active solo. Well into his 90s, under the moniker M. Faber of Scottsdale, he pursued a long-time passion to create and cast miniature sculptures in silver and gold. Marsh is survived by his first cousin, Doris E. Faber (Arlington, VA); three children, Margaret F. Metcalf (Houston, TX), Marshall L. Faber, Jr., (Loveland, CO), and Marianne L. Faber (Henderson, NV and other cities); two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Your reminiscences of Marsh and Martha would be welcomed (c/o Marianne L. Faber, P.O. Box 2115, North Mankato, MN 56003). Memorials are preferred to your local animal rescue organization.