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Wheeling filmmaker Ellis Dungan (May 11, 1909-December 1, 2001) was born in nearby Barton, Ohio. After high school he took to the road, hitchhiking across the United States several times and later traveling abroad. In Paris he studied photography for two years while working at the American Library.

Dungan enrolled in the film school at the University of Southern California in 1932 and took his first job as a director in a film studio in Madras, India. He spent the next 15 years as cameraman, editor, director, and production person in the prolific Indian film industry, working on feature films, documentaries, and World War II training films for the British government. He returned to Hollywood in 1950, then traveled back and forth to film action scenes in India for The Jungle with Marie Windsor and Cesar Romero; Harry Black and the Tiger, starring Stewart Granger and Barbara Rush; and Tarzan Goes to India with Jock Mahoney. Also in India, he shot the action scenes for 52 jungle adventure television programs for Frank Ferrin’s Andy’s Gang.

Dungan came home to the Ohio Valley in 1958, settling in Wheeling. During the next 30 years his Ellis Dungan Productions shot documentary films for Hollywood producer Duke Goldstone and produced many films for the state and region, including Wheels to Progress (1959) and For Liberty and Union (1977), about the creation of the state of West Virginia. Ellis married Elaine Runner in 1964. His last film, Josiah Fox—Architect of the United States’ First Navy, was released in 1987, a tribute to his great-great-grandfather, who helped design the USS Constitution, ‘‘Old Ironsides.’’

Ellis Dungan was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the West Virginia International Film Festival in 1989 and inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame in 1994. He died in neighboring Bellaire, Ohio.

This Article was written by Bill Drennen

Last Revised on October 18, 2012

Related Articles


Dungan, Ellis with Barbara D. Smik. A Guide to Adventure: An Autobiography. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Pub., 2002.

Smik, Barbara D. Ready, Wheeling, and Able. Goldenseal, (Fall 1996).

Cite This Article

Drennen, Bill "Ellis Dungan." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 18 October 2012. Web. 18 July 2024.


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