Other Notable Deaths

May 12, 2008

JOSEPH S. MIKO, 87

Filmed footage of Hungarian Revolution

Joseph S. Miko, a former cameraman whose extensive footage of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was smuggled out of Budapest and is considered a significant piece of the documentary record of the historic uprising against Soviet oppression, has died. He was 87.

Mr. Miko died of blood cancer April 28 at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, said his son, Joe.

A retired owner of camera and electronic stores in the L.A. area, Mr. Miko was forced to flee Hungary with his family after capturing the short-lived revolution on film.

Some of the footage that Mr. Miko shot of the crowds of demonstrators and the ensuing fighting in the streets of Budapest was shown on The 20th Century, the CBS documentary series narrated by Walter Cronkite. More than four decades later, Mr. Miko and his footage were featured in a segment of the four-part History Channel special Caught on Film.

Mr. Miko's footage, which he stored in his garage for decades before donating 177 minutes worth to the Hungarian National Film Archive in 1993, has also been used in the recent documentaries Freedom's Fury and Torn From the Flag.

A 1954 graduate of the state-operated Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest, he sometimes worked as a newsreel cameraman. Mr. Miko was returning from a film location Oct. 23, 1956, when he saw a crowd of marching university students.

"He always carried a hand-held 35 millimeter camera, and when he got into the city and saw the university students marching and demonstrating, he started shooting the marchers," his son told the Los Angeles Times.

From street and rooftop vantage points, Mr. Miko captured dramatic images as the number of marchers swelled and filled a huge city plaza.

He filmed demonstrators attacking a toppled statue of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin with a sledgehammer and cutting a Communist party emblem out of a Hungarian flag with a pocket knife - and he later filmed a crowd of demonstrators running for their lives as members of the secret police shot at them.

Mr. Miko's son said that his father gave the footage he had shot to his father-in-law, "who smuggled it piecemeal into the American Embassy."

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