January 31, 2023

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Don Camburn dead: ‘Easy Rider’ editor, former MPEG president aged 93

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Don Camburn, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated editor and former president of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, died Wednesday, his family told MPEG Journal Cinematage. He was 93.

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

Camburn received four American Cinema Editor 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, Camburn was awarded the American Cinema Editors Career Achievement Award.

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

“I developed a simple technique,” Camburn wrote, according to the cinematography. “Every day while doing my rounds, I would physically hit the editorial on the head. If he stepped into the elevator I would back into him and step on his toes. If he was walking down a hall, I could bump into him. Finally, he gave in and within three months I was an apprentice.”

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

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

Camburn was president of MPEG’s Local 700 from 1992 to 2001, as well as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and a faculty member of the American Film Institute (AFI).

“Don was one of those rare types of people who was loved by everyone he came in contact with,” commented Cathy Repolla, National Executive Guild Director. “During his tenure as Guild President, he was instrumental in ushering and steering us through important changes that ultimately benefited all members. We are eternally grateful to him.”

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