Donn Cambern, ‘Easy Rider’ Editor and Former Motion Picture Editors Guild President, Dies at 93

Donn Cambern, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated editor and former president of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, died on Wednesday, his family told MPEG journal CineMontage. He was 93.

The Guild confirmed Cambern’s death in a Facebook post, writing: “MPEG mourns the loss of Donn Cambern, ACE, an Oscar-nominated editor and former Guild president who passed this week at age 93. Donn edited ‘Easy Rider’ and co-edited ‘Romancing the Stone.’ He was also a tireless advocate and educator who was fondly recalled by friends and colleagues.”

Cambern received four American Cinema Editors nominations for “The Bob Hope Christmas Special” (1968), “The Hindenburg” (1975), “Hooper” (1978) and “Romancing the Stone” (1984). His work on “The Bob Hope Christmas Special” also earned him an Emmy nomination, and “Romancing the Stone” received an Oscar nomination for best film editing. In 2004, Cambern was awarded the American Cinema Editors career achievement award.

Cambern was born in 1929 in Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA in 1952 with a degree in music and was hired as a messenger at Disney. His passion remained with editing, however, and he saw the need for music editors in TV production.

“I developed a simple strategy,” Cambern wrote, according to CineMontage. “Every day while making my rounds, I would physically bump into the head of editorial. If he was stepping into the elevator I would back into him and step on his toes. If he was walking down a hall, I would manage to bump into him. Finally, he gave in and within three months I was an apprentice.”

In the 1960s, Cambern edited music for TV including “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle: USMC.” Cambern then began working in picture editing, and a colleague’s chance call led him to the Academy Award-winning film “Easy Rider” and launched his film editing career.

Cambern’s later works include “Ghostbusters II” (1989), “The Bodyguard” (1992) and “The Glimmer Man” (1996).

Cambern was president of Local 700 of the MPEG from 1992 to 2001 as well as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and a teacher at the American Film Institute (AFI).

“Donn was one of those rare kinds of people who was loved by everyone who came into contact with him,” remarked national executive guild director Cathy Repola. “During his years serving as president of the Guild, he was instrumental in initiating and steering us through significant changes that have ultimately benefitted all of the members. We are forever grateful to him.”

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