Fred “Freddy” Bornet was born in Scheveningen, Holland, on February 25, 1915. Fluent in French, English and German, he migrated to the United States in 1939 as a 24 year old primarily to escape Hitler who by that time had already loomed as a threat to the Jews of Europe. Fred was well on his way as a musical talent before the outbreak of WWII. At that time he was a song and dance man and composer in New York City. This segment of his life was interrupted by the entry of the US into WWII. However, he continued to be engaged in musicals that received good press reviews in the early part of his US Army life. While stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey along with writers from MGM and Paramount Fred wrote an extremely successful musical “Bottlenecks, 1941.” The musical was subsequently broadcast on NBC TV.
During the greater part of this period Fred served in the U.S. Army as a combat cameraman until wounded at Cassino as he took part in the invasion of Southern France with the Seventh Army. Segments of film that he had shot were incorporated into The True Glory, a war film that received an Academy Award. During this period he received a Purple Heart for his injury at Cassino, a Bronze Star in the Italian Campaign as the Army headed toward France, and a Croix de Guerre from the French Expeditionary Corps of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. He left the Army as a staff sergeant.
In 1945 Fred studied theatrical direction with Lee Strassberg then began to direct his energies into photography and direction, highlighted by a musical series for Columbia Pictures, Sing and be Happy (1947). This period followed his work as a director-cinematographer highlighted by his work with Somerset Maugham in the celebrated author’s TV series. His career continued and eventually found a home in television commercials for top New York City ad agencies. As he connected with major US corporations and institutions he was engaged by producers for documentaries, a number of which became international prizewinners. Some of his films are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. As an avocation, Fred worked as a sculptor and a notable surrealistic and abstract painter but with a sense of humor and wit uncommon in this genre.
After the release of Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award winning film, Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fred was flown to Washington DC along with some of the remaining WWII Combat Cameramen to receive public recognition for the harrowing and amazing contribution such men do in wartime.