Gary was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. In high school he produced and starred in his own weekly radio show. Moving into acting, he studied and performed at the the Portland Civic Theatre and Grant High School as well as being a child circus clown and magician. He bulit a theatre in his basement, showing 16mm films and producing plays for the neighborhood kids.
At age 20, he moved to Hollywood to continue his studies. He studied with Jeff Corey, Douglas Fowley, Leff J. Cobb and Lucille Ball. Finding acting jobs hard to come by, he switched to production work and produced and directed a short film and a feature. Soon, the draft would take him overseas where he became a member of the U.S. Navy Combat Camera Group. Not really being a cameraman at the time, he went around to all the camera rental houses in Hollywood and picked up all the knowledge he could and quickly adapted for his two year tour of duty in the far east, Vietnam, Japan and the Phillipines.
After leaving the military, he worked in documentaries for one year before getting into “feature productions.” After photographing such classics as “Satan’s Sadists” and “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” he decided to call on Orson Welles, whom he read was in town. It was just a fluke as Gary did not know Welles or had ever met him. Orson explained that only one other cameraman had just called him up and said he wanted to work with him. That was Gregg Toland, who photographed “Citizen Kane.”
Welles and Graver immediately embarked on a series on half-hour shows for Sear’s department stores. It was called, “An Evening with Orson Welles.” I consisted of six stories told on film by Orson and then to be transferred to a new, up and coming medium…………………..videotape.
It was the beginning of a close friendship and creative filmmaking. In 1970 Graver, Welles and his collaborator, Oja Kodar started filming a feature project, “The Other Side of the Wind.” The production of this movie was to take place over a period of five years. Shooting was completed in Los Angeles in 1975 at the home of Peter Bogdonavich. After a marathon schedule that took the project to Arizona, Frnace, Spain, Belgium, New York, Hollywood, Yugoslavia, Italy and England. Through a series of legal entanglements the film was never brought through post-production, although Orson left and edited 45 minutes and editing notes.
During this period, in 1973, Welles, Kodar and Graver made a feature in Europe titled “F for Fake.” Since then Welles and Graver worked on many projects including “The Orson Welles Show” for TV syndication with Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson and the Muppets. Other projects included “Orson Welles Scrapbook,” “Orson Welles Magic Show,” and the essay film, “Filming of Othello.”
On the morning on Welles death, they were to begin filming “Julius Caesar” with Orson playing all of the parts himself. Two days previously the stage had been pre-lit at UCLS Theatre Arts Department.
Between times, in the midst of all the Welles’ projects, Gary maintained his professional status as a first-rate Hollywood Cinematographer and made many feature films for Roger Corman; “Moonshine County Express,” “Deathsport,” with David Carradine and “Grand Theft Auto” directed by Ron Howard.
He also photographed “The Toolbox Murders,” “The Attic” with Carrie Snodgrass and Ray Milland, “Mortuary,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” and the re-make of “Stagecoach” with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings.
For Disney, Gary shot “Love Leads The Way” starring Timothy Bottoms, Patricia Neal, Eva Marie Saint, Ernest Borgnine, Ralph Bellamy and Arthur Hill. In 1981, he directed “The Boys” from his own screenplay, starring Cameron Mitchell and his son Channing Mitchell. This film was subsequently destroyed by the producer and distributor. The solid, hard-hitting drama in the screenplay in the directors’ cut finally emerged as a stupid comedy released by Film Ventures as “Texas Lightning.”
In 1982 Gary wrote, produced and directed a film called “Trick or Treats.” This film featured his son Christopher along with David Carradine, Carrie Snodgrass, Steve Railsback, Jackie Giroux, Paul Bartel and Jillian Kesner.
In the 1980’s Gary photographed five TV “movies of the week” starring Gary Coleman for NBC.
In 1986, he photographed a film for Vestron titled, “Party Camp” which had a limited theatrical release before going to video. 1987 was spent mostly on directing, photographing and editing, “Moon in Scorpio” for Trans World Entertainment. This supernatural thriller ser on the high seas with a vampire and astrological plot involving several decadent characters was re-edited many times by the producers and then released only on video where it made money. In this film, Graver directed John Phillip Law, Britt Ecklund, William Smith, Lewis Van Bergen, Jillian Kesner and April Wayne.
In 1988 he directed a comedy farce, “Nerds of a Feather” featuring comedian Pat McCormick and female impersonator Charles Pierce, producer Mario Milano and a cast of midgets. Following this Graver produced and photographed “Jaded.” Set in Venice, California, this off-beat psycho-drama was written and directed by Oja Kodar. It stars Jillian Kesner and Elizabeth Brooks. Orson Welles also appears in a cameo from the unseen clip of “Merchant of Venice,” playing Shylock.
Also in 1988, he photographed “B.O.R.N.,” “Deadly Revenge,” Night Children,” “Alienator,” “L.A. Bounty” and “Demon Sword.”
After photographing many shorts, TV movies, commercials and documentaries (Billy Wilder, Douglas Sirk, NASA, Carradines in Concert, Harlem Globetrotters,) and music videos (Kool and the Gang, Gap Band, Warlock, Hiroshima, etc.) Gary concentrated on developing his own projects for production and is planning to complete the unfinished Orson Welles film, “The Other Side of the Wind.”