Howard Alk

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Howard Alk (1930 – January 1982) was a Chicago-based filmmaker.


Howard Alk enrolled in the University of Chicago at the age of 14.[1] He was a member of the Compass Players cabaret troupe and one of the founders (along with fellow U of C graduates Bernard Sahlins and Paul Sills) of The Second City.[1][2][3] Alk had previously worked with Sills at the Gate of Horn.[1] According to Bernard Sahlins, Alk coined the group's name.[4] He left the group in the early 1960s.[1]

Alk was associated with The Film Group, a Chicago film production company, where he shot and edited several of the group's films, including American Revolution 2 (1969) and The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971).[5]

Alk was a longtime friend and collaborator of Bob Dylan, whom he met in 1963.[6][self-published source] The two worked together on the films Eat the Document, Hard Rain, and Renaldo and Clara.[4]

Alk also worked on Janis, Festival, Luxman Baul's Movie and other films.[5]


Alk was a heroin user.[7]

In January 1982,[nb 1] Alk was found dead at Rundown Studios, Dylan's studio in Santa Monica, California.[8][9] Although the coroner ruled his death an accidental heroin overdose,[9] various sources report his death to be a suicide.[4][7][8] Alk's first wife, Jones, and his second wife Joan, both believed he intentionally killed himself. But no evidence either way has ever been found.[9]

He was survived by his parents Rozetta and Lou, his wife Joan and their young son Jesse.



  1. ^ Heylin states that Alk was found dead on New Year's Day 1982, but Sounes notes that he was found on January 3, 1982.


  1. ^ a b c d Mike Thomas (December 10, 2009). "Excerpt: 'The Second City Unscripted'". NPR.
  2. ^ Don B. Wilmeth (September 13, 2007). The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge University Press. p. 586. ISBN 978-0-521-83538-1.
  3. ^ Jeanne Leep (May 15, 2008). Theatrical Improvisation: Short Form, Long Form, and Sketch-Based Improv. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-230-60467-4. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Patrick Friel (January 6, 2008). "Second City cinéaste". TimeOut Chicago. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Howard Alk at IMDB". Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  6. ^ Nothing to Turn Off: The Films and Video of Bob Dylan. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-615-18336-7. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Barney Hoskyns (2006). Across the Great Divide: The Band and America. HAL LEONARD Publishing Company. p. 435. ISBN 978-1-4234-1442-1. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Clinton Heylin (April 29, 2003). Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited. HarperCollins. p. 527. ISBN 978-0-06-052569-9. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Howard Sounes (April 2002). Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. GROVE/ATLANTIC Incorporated. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-8021-3891-0. Retrieved July 22, 2013.

External links

  • Local filmmaker Howard Alk gets some overdue respect.
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