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Obituaries

April 20, 1999

Rudi Fehr; Film Editor on 'Key Largo'

Rudi Fehr, 87, international film editor who worked for Warner Bros. for four decades. Fehr, who also founded the Los Angeles-Berlin Sister City Committee, was a young composer in Berlin when he became interested in film. He worked for Sam Spiegel on "The Unlucky Mr. Five" but as a Jew was ousted from his studio when Nazis came to power in 1933. Fehr moved to Vienna, where he edited "Invisible Enemies" for Spiegel, and then to London, where he edited Spiegel's Buster Keaton film "The Invader," which is also known as "An Old Spanish Custom." Immigrating to Burbank and Warner Bros. in 1936, Fehr initially translated German films into English for $60 a week. He became an assistant film editor to Warren Low, and earned his first editing credit for Warners in 1941 on "My Love Comes Back," starring Olivia de Havilland. Fehr went on to edit "Key Largo" for John Huston and "Dial M for Murder" for Alfred Hitchcock. He worked from 1951 until his retirement in 1976 as head of post-production at Warners, and later held that post for Francis Ford Coppola at Zoetrope Studios. Highly respected by his colleagues, Fehr served for several years on the board of directors of the Motion Picture Editors Guild. On Friday in Los Angeles of a heart attack.

Cao Huoxing; Wrote Propaganda Songs

Cao Huoxing, 75, Chinese composer who wrote key Communist Party propaganda songs. Born to a farm family in the Hebei province of China, Cao began composing at the age of 15 and wrote more than 1,500 songs. But his most famous song by far was "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China," which he composed in 1943. The Communists won a civil war and took power in 1949. By then, Cao's anthem was well-known to hundreds of millions of Chinese. On Friday in Tianjin, China.

Eddie Saunders; Broke Racial Barriers

Eddie Saunders, 90, a hotel bellboy who broke racial barriers to become a radio and television star in Ohio. James "Eddie" Saunders was born in Virginia and during the Depression started singing and dancing on street corners to make money. He moved to Columbus, Ohio, during World War II, recalling years later that the city "was one of the most segregated" in the United States. He began a radio show, "Sermons and Songs," in 1948 and kept it on the air until 1995, when his health failed. In addition to the WVKO-AM radio program, he had a pioneering weekly TV show in the 1950s on Columbus' WTVN-TV (now WSYX). His long-running radio show featured Saunders chatting with callers, taking requests for songs and offering words of wisdom. On Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

Aubrey Schenck; Producer of Film Classics

Aubrey Schenck, 90, film noir producer who headed the Producers Guild of America. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Schenck graduated from Cornell University and earned a law degree at New York University. He began his career as a New York lawyer and moved into show business as a buyer and attorney for National Theatres. In 1944, Schenck moved to Los Angeles, where he produced "Shock" for 20th Century Fox, starring Vincent Price. At Eagle-Lion Studios, Schenck produced half a dozen film noir classics, including director Anthony Mann's "T-Men" and "Raw Deal." The prescient Schenck cast young actor Jack Webb in his first police role for the 1948 film "He Walked by Night," a documentary-style movie that shaped the mold for Webb's "Dragnet" TV series. After a couple of years at Universal-International, Schenck joined Howard W. Koch in 1953 to form Bel-Air Productions, one of the first independent production companies. Over the next few years, they created more than 30 films, including "Beachhead" starring Tony Curtis, "War Paint" with Robert Stack, "The Black Sleep" with Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi and "Shield for Murder" with Edmond O'Brien. Schenck later worked for Warner Bros., Paramount and United Artists, producing films with such actors as Mamie Van Doren, Boris Karloff, James Garner, Hugh O'Brian, Jack Palance and Burt Reynolds. Schenck served as president of the Producers Guild of America from 1971 to 1974. On Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Willi Stoph; Tried in Berlin Wall Killings

Willi Stoph, 84, former East German premier who was tried for killings at the Berlin Wall on charges that were later dismissed. Stoph was ousted along with East German leader Erich Honecker on Nov. 7, 1989, two days before the Berlin Wall opened. Along with Honecker and four others, Stoph went on trial in his native Berlin on Nov. 13, 1992, charged with 13 counts of manslaughter in the killings of people trying to escape from East Germany. He was dropped from the case in August 1993, after the court decided he was too ill with heart problems to continue. Stoph served in Adolf Hitler's army as a private during World War II and studied at the Lenin Academy in the Soviet Union after the war. He became East Germany's first defense minister in 1956 and was known as the architect of the East German People's Army. Stoph became premier in 1970. On April 13 in Berlin.

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