Former ACE President Randy Roberts Dies at 69

The editor, producer and director edited series such as 'Chicago Hope,' 'L.A. Law' and 'Early Edition'
Peter Zakhary/Tilt Photo

Editor, producer and director Randy Roberts died Monday in his Los Angeles home after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 69.

He was the award-winning editor of hit series including Chicago HopeL.A. Law and Early Edition. But for all who knew him, he will most be remembered as a friend, mentor and champion of film editors.

Roberts served on American Cinema Editors’ board of directors for nearly two decades, as vp from 2005-08 and as president from 2008-12. Earlier this year, he received ACE’s Heritage Award for his lifetime commitment to ACE. And last month, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Post Alliance.

Presenting the HPA Award, Wolf Films’ executive producer Arthur Fortney said of Roberts: “When you begin your career in any industry, you hope to find someone who believes in your talent, you’re especially blessed if they help shape you as an artist and as a human being. That person for me is my dear friend Randy Roberts. His belief in me has helped me with who I am today." He concluded by saluting Roberts' "leadership and passion for ACE.”

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For Chicago Hope, Roberts won an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award as well as an Emmy nomination and a second Eddie nomination. He earned two additional Eddie nominations, for L.A. Law and Early Edition. He also contributed to the phenomenal success of the long-running series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit from 2001-11, starting as a co-producer and becoming supervising producer in 2003.

Roberts was an L.A. native — his father was head of casting at Warner Bros. and his mother was an extra. By age 10, he had found his love of the business, initially as a child actor, with roles including on a 1956 episode of Warner Bros. Presents with Elizabeth Montgomery. Later, he started to work in Warners’ mailroom when his uncle, film editor Sam O’Steen, introduced him to editing.

Roberts began as an assistant to Gene Mumford (On the Waterfront) and went on to earn a string of film and TV credits including Straight Time (1978), co-edited with O’Steen; and Players, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and One from the Heart for Francis Ford Coppola. He also edited Magic Journey, a 3D attraction for the Kodak Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot Center. And he directed episodes of Tour of Duty, Miami Vice, L.A. Law and Early Edition.

He retired from Law & Order in 2011, and during his illness continued to actively contribute his efforts to ACE while maintaining his sense of humor and positive outlook. He was always ready with comments such as this: "The sooner you get behind, the more time you have to catch up."

He leaves behind his partner, editor Heidi Scharfe; his daughter, Taylor, son-in-law, Cesar; and grandchildren Carmen and Kennedy.

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