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Harry Gerstad, 93; Film Editor Won 2 Academy Awards

July 31, 2002|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Harry Gerstad, Academy Award-winning film editor for the 1949 prizefighting classic "Champion" starring Kirk Douglas and the 1952 Western epic "High Noon" starring Gary Cooper, has died. He was 93.

Gerstad, whose Hollywood career spanned more than four decades, died July 17 of natural causes in Palm Springs, where he had lived in retirement since 1973.

In addition to his Oscars, Gerstad shared with film editor Fred Berger the American Cinema Editors Career Achievements Awards in 1997.

Gerstad was also nominated for an ACE Eddie Award for the television series "High Chaparral" in 1968.

Gerstad, who moved to Hollywood with his father, a cameraman, in 1910, began his career in 1929, working for the Hal Roach Studios laboratory, the Warner Bros. lab and Republic Pictures.

He worked extensively with director Edward Dmytryk when he began editing feature films in the late 1940s, and often attributed his early success to Dmytryk. Among Gerstad's films with the director were RKO's 1947 examination of bigotry, "Crossfire," starring Robert Young and Robert Mitchum.

Gerstad worked with another influential editor, Stanley Kramer, at Columbia Pictures on such features as "Home of the Brave" in 1949; "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1950 and "Death of a Salesman" in 1951.

He shared the "High Noon" editing Oscar with Elmo Williams.

As television developed in the 1950s and 1960s, Gerstad moved easily between the small and large screens, often in related projects. One of those was the 1951-57 TV series "The Adventures of Superman," starring George Reeves, and feature films made from the television episodes.

Gerstad also edited the early TV series "Highway Patrol," starring Broderick Crawford, and "Ben Casey," starring Vince Edwards and Sam Jaffe.

Among the nearly 40 feature films Gerstad edited were "The Spiral Staircase" in 1946, "Combat Squad" in 1953, "Five Gates to Hell" and "Here Come the Jets" in 1959, "Walk on the Wild Side" in 1962, "Batman" in 1966, "The Secret Life of an American Wife" in 1968, "Big Jake" in 1971 and "Walking Tall" in 1973. His final feature editing credit was for "Framed," released in 1975.

From the mid-1960s until his retirement, Gerstad worked for Bing Crosby Productions, Fox and John Wayne's Batjac Productions.

He is survived by his wife, Jody. A celebration of his life will be scheduled for November.

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