Industry mourns passing of Manfred N. Klemme

The industry mourns the passing of Manfred N. Klemme, innovator and founder of K-Tek Boom Poles. Klemme was 71.

Manfred Klemme, a native of Canada, had always been fascinated with photography and electronics. As a young man, he worked at the local camera shop and often attended photo trade shows. It was at one such exhibition that he saw the representative for Hasselblad struggling with a jammed lens on their only show camera. Klemme calmly took the camera apart from the back forward, unjammed the lens and put it back together. That act of generosity became his entry into the industry, when he was offered a job in pro industrial audio and video at Braun Electric.

In a few years he realized his passion for audio and was hired by sound recorder pioneer Nagra-Kudulski. This move brought Manfred and his family to Hollywood where he worked to make Nagra recorders, the standard for motion picture audio production.

Klemme’s brilliant mind and warm demeanor earned him the trust and friendship of customers and colleagues alike. In the mid-80s, his friend Ed DiGiulio of Cinema Products hired him to become marketing manager for the successful Steadicam camera stabilization system. However, Klemme realized his real passion was for audio technology and in 1994, he opened an office in North Hollywood to distribute Sonosax mixers and recorders in the USA. In the office next door was his long-time friend, Mike Denecke. The two collaborated and introduced many time-code innovations to the industry. In fact, the 1999 Prime Time Emmy Awards honored Manfred N. Klemme for Outstanding Achievement in engineering development for his contribution to the DCODE TS-1 Time Code Slate.

Believing that the sound industry needed a local manufacturer focused primarily on products for the Hollywood professional, Manfred introduced M. Klemme Technology Corp. His first product, the K-Tek boom pole became an instant success and earned a 1998 Technical Achievement Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His company went on to design a comprehensive line of modular boom poles, including the patented Articulated pole, as well as audio and camcorder accessories. Manfred enjoyed working closely with his capable daughter Brenda Klemme Parker who became the company’s president in 2006.

In 2010, Klemme was honored for his contributions to the industry with the coveted President’s Award from the Cinema Audio Society. At the heartfelt ceremony, Manfred was greeted with a well-deserved standing ovation from the entire audience.

Klemme was enthusiastic about his life’s work and was an avid boater and pilot. However, his real passion was for his loving wife of 49 years, Ora Lee, his three children and two grandchildren. He will be missed.

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