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Frank Howard

Hall of Fame Class of 1987

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Dr. Frank “Doc” Howard learned to ski while visiting Norway in 1928. After returning to the United States in 1929, he joined the Auburn Ski Club. Howard began taking films on skiing that were so impressive that his reputation grew rapidly.

Dr. Frank Howard was born in San Francisco, California on July 12, 1910.

In December, 1927 he took a trip to Norway and paid for it by working on the ocean liner M.S. Benjamin Franklin. His total pay was one kroner.

Howard eventually docked in Oslo in 1928. It was there he learned to ski. While there, he also swam as a member of the Norwegian Swim team. This was during pre-Olympic competition with Sweden.

Returning home in 1929, he brought a pair of skis back with him and joined the Auburn Ski Club. Graduating from dental school in 1935, he acquired a movie camera. It was at the ski clubs new grounds that he began taking ski films. The popularity of the films with club members led to the development of a lecture career. Howard was a national ski movie lecturer throughout the United States and Canada during the late thirties and early forties. Later he produced color and sound films which were rented out to ski clubs, etc. after World War II.

Howard was a personal friend of and skied with Averal Harriman during the development of Sun Valley in the early 1940s. With Wayne Poulsen and Alex Cushing, he rode horseback on the first survey of the Squaw Valley lift and did the first publicity and motion pictures for Squaw Valley.

A member of the Norwegian Club of San Francisco for many years and with the sponsorship of the club, Howard sent a color film to the Norwegian Ski Association to depict developing California skiing. In return, the Ruud family of Konigsberg sent a film showing their ski jumping training.

Howard was the first motion picture ski movie producer in the west and joined John Jay and Becker Films to make the official movie of the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics. He arranged for Warren Miller’s first public show in Berkley, California and helped John Jay make arrangements for many of his first west coast shows.

“Doc” also provided numerous photos for early ski publications, various newspaper and the Ski Annual. He helped Peter Stackpole of Life Magazine take photos of Mt. Lassen.

Howard allowed Richard Mouton, the producer of the ski film, Legends of American Skiing to copy his early 1940s downhill skiing footage. He donated memorabilia to the Far West Ski Museum, such as early skis and photographs. Howard also allowed copies of several of his ski films to be copied by the Western Ski Sport Museum at no cost and donated hundreds of historical prints and negatives to them.

“Doc” Howard never did make any money from his films as was his intent. He was a dentist by profession and a filmmaker because he loved it and wanted to share the thrill of skiing with everyone.

Dr. Frank Howard was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1987.

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