Marjorie Fowler, 82; Film Editor Won Life Achievement Award

From a Times Staff Writer

Film editor Marjorie Fowler, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work as a co-editor of the 1967 film “Doctor Dolittle” and was honored by the American Cinema Editors, died in her sleep July 8 at her home in the Hollywood Hills. She was 82.

The American Cinema Editors, which awarded her its Lifetime Career Achievement Award in 2000, had nominated her six times for its highest honor, the Eddie Award, which she won in 1982 for “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 television movie.

Fowler, who was born July 16, 1920, was the daughter of screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, whose many credits include adapting Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” for the screen and writing, directing and producing “The Three Faces of Eve,” which Fowler edited and which won Joanne Woodward a best actress Oscar in 1957.


Fowler also was the editor on many films in the 1950s and 1960s, including “Elmer Gantry,” starring Burt Lancaster; “Separate Tables,” starring Lancaster, David Niven and Deborah Kerr; and “Lover Come Back,” starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Her work later included many TV productions.

Fowler began her career in films as a contract player at Twentieth Century Fox, then moved on to story analysis before becoming a film editor.

In an interview with CinemaEditor magazine in 2000, Fowler said that she had sneaked into screening rooms and watched other editors’ first cuts as they were presented to directors. She said she gravitated toward films that experimented with time, character, detail and the musicality of cuts. She began to “see” the finished film when watching dailies.

When she began in films, women were, if not common, at least accepted in editing rooms. She told CinemaEditor that in the 1940s and 1950s, directors rarely entered the editing room.

“After they were done shooting, we would work hard to put the film into first cut and then present it to the director in a screening room,” she said. “We talked, took notes and then were left alone to work with the film. We screened it again, and that was it.”

She was among the first to use a diagonal splicer to edit films.

Her husband, film editor and director Gene Fowler Jr., died in 1998. She is survived by a son, Michael Fowler; two sisters; a brother; and a granddaughter.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Motion Picture Editors Guild.