Photo courtesy of Julie Ann Taylor
Cory at DC shoot for JFK: A President Betrayed
Cory Taylor passed away from complications of cancer on March 4th at the age of 56. An award-winning documentary filmmaker & author, Cory had been a Topanga Canyon resident since 2013.
Originally from the bay area, Cory attended UC Santa Cruz before transferring to UCLA in 1986, majoring in Theatre, Film, and Television. After graduating from UCLA, Cory began his professional career as a receptionist at National Geographic Television. He impressed his superiors with his work ethic and determination to contribute to the company mission, eventually leading him to become a cinematographer and sound editor. He chased tornadoes in the Midwest, documented volcanoes in the Caribbean, and chucked dynamite out of the side of a helicopter to film avalanches in Alaska. In 1999, his hard work parlayed into an Emmy win for sound editing for the film, Avalanche: The White Death.
Complementing his professional career, Cory was a practicing Buddhist who began studying the teachings of the internationally renowned UN Peace Medal recipient and philosopher, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda. The key-tenets of respect for life and valuing democratic principles helped launch a new phase in Coryâ€™s career as he began to pursue documentary filmmaking to tell stories of human triumph over violence and strife.
In 2007, Cory co-founded Agora Productions with producing partner Darin Nellis. Their first feature explored the Velvet Revolution which toppled the Soviet regime in Czechoslovakia. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, The Power of the Powerless investigates the difficult road to peace taken on by famous dissidents such as Vaclav Havel, as well as the importance of educating younger generations on efforts to peacefully unseat totalitarian regimes from power. Later, Cory wrote and directed JFK: A President Betrayed, which analyzes efforts on behalf of John F. Kennedy to negotiate back-channel peace agreements with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, despite intense opposition from his own government. The film was narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.
In 2012, Cory was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. Though his prognosis was just 3-5 years, Cory chose to live audaciously. As luck would have it, he found Dr. James R. Berenson, who is ranked among the top eight doctors in the world for treating multiple myeloma. Cory often undertook cutting edge treatment and in some cases was the only person in the world on his combination of medicines. Through this, he was able to extend his life, continue his many projects and help others with a similar prognosis.
While bedridden and recovering from compression fractures, Cory began a four-year research and writing odyssey in which he explored the rise of Adolf Hitler after the end of World War One. Cory victoriously published â€śHow Hitler Was Made: Germany and the Rise of the Perfect Nazi,â€ť in 2018, which received numerous plaudits from the public and experts alike. Unlike the many books that focus on Hitler after he took power in 1933, the book frames the Nazi leaderâ€™s early years from 1918 to 1924 in the context of the fascinating and diabolical characters who encouraged, nurtured, and ultimately lost control of him. Up until itâ€™s publication, no other work examines in detail the competing aspirations of the German left and right as a cause for Hitlerâ€™s rise.
Coryâ€™s last project as screenwriter and co-editor is the soon-to-be-released film entitled â€śOLEG.â€ť A documentary feature narrated by Brian Cox, it tells the story of actor Oleg Vidov, known as the â€śRussian Robert Redfordâ€ť who grappled with his role in Russiaâ€™s propaganda machine, ultimately defecting to the U.S. to pursue the American dream. There will be a special benefit screening online and in person on Sunday, July 10 at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles. All proceeds will benefit the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research. For more information: imbcr.org/oleg/
To his last days, Cory believed that individual potential and respect for human rights would change our world for the better. He is survived by his wife Julie, his son, Liam, a brother Jess, and hundreds of friends who will never forget the value he brought to their lives.