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Ken Burns Biography

Birth Name:
Kenneth Lauren Burns
Birth Place:
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Filmmaker, director, producer, writer

Fast Facts

  • Started his production company, Florentine Films, at age 22
  • Received an Oscar nomination for producing his first documentary, Brooklyn Bridge, in 1981
  • In 1990, was the director, producer and music director for the series The Civil War, which won more than 40 television and film awards
  • His 1994 documentary, Baseball, became, at the time, the most watched series in PBS history with more than 45 million viewers
  • Became co-owner of the Restaurant at L
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  • Burdick Chocolate, which opened in 2000
  • Popularized a filming technique known as the Ken Burns Effect that involves zooming in on photographs and panning across the subjects in the still images
  • Has received more than 20 honorary degrees from institutions such as Penn State University and the University of Michigan


  • 2018Emmy-Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: nominated
  • 2018BAFTA Television Awards-Best International: nominated
  • 2017Directors Guild of America Awards-Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary: nominated
  • 2015Producers Guild Awards-David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television: nominated
  • 2015Emmy-Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series: nominated
  • 2013Writers Guild Awards-Documentary Screenplay: nominated
  • 2013Independent Spirit Awards-Best Documentary: nominated
  • 2010Emmy-Outstanding Nonfiction Series: winner
  • 2007Directors Guild of America Awards-Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary: nominated
  • 2005Emmy-Outstanding Non-Fiction Special: winner
  • 2005Emmy-Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: nominated
  • 2001Emmy-Outstanding Non-Fiction Series (Informational): nominated
  • 2001Emmy-Outstanding Cinematography for Non-Fiction Programming: nominated
  • 1995Emmy-Outstanding Informational Series: winner
  • 1995Emmy-Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Programming: nominated
  • 1992Emmy-Outstanding Informational Special: nominated
  • 1991Emmy-Outstanding Informational Series: winner
  • 1991Emmy-Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Programming: winner
  • 1986Emmy-Outstanding Informational Special: nominated
  • 1985Oscar-Best Documentary (Feature): nominated
  • 1981Oscar-Best Documentary (Feature): nominated