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Aram A. Avakian, Director and Film Editor, Is Dead at Age 60

January 23, 1987|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Aram A. Avakian, a veteran film editor who gained prominence as director of the graphic and unsettling 1970 picture "End of the Road," has died at the age of 60.

Avakian, who also edited Edward R. Murrow's television news series "See It Now" from 1955 to 1958, died Saturday at his Manhattan home of heart failure.

Avakian graduated from Yale University, served in the Navy and lived in Paris, where he attended the Sorbonne.

He returned to New York in 1953 and was apprenticed to the cinematographer and photographer Gjon Mili. In 1958, after his stint with Murrow, he edited and, with Bert Stern, co-directed "Jazz on a Summer's Day," believed the first feature-film documentary of a music festival.

He edited the 1960 feature film "Girl of the Night," directed by Joseph Cates and acknowledged for its early use of the freeze frame and the jump cut. His other editor credits included "The Miracle Worker," 1962, and his last major film, "Honeysuckle Rose," 1979.

In 1972 he directed "End of the Road," which he adapted with novelist Terry Southern from the 1958 John Barth novel.

The film was noted for its graphic depiction of an abortion and received an X rating. But, wrote Roger Greenspun in the New York Times, it also was a film able to capture "the precise truth of, say, 5 in a summer afternoon on the lawn of an assistant professor in a small country college."

From 1983 to 1986, Avakian headed the film program at New York State University College at Purchase.

His longtime companion was the former ballerina Allegra Kent. He is survived by a son, daughter and brother.

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