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Diane Adler, the pioneering film editor who spent five seasons on The Rockford Files and cut other TV series including Kojak, Spenser: For Hire and Riptide, has died. She was 97.
Adler died Thursday in Los Angeles, her family announced.
A beloved member of the American Cinema Editors and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Adler for two decades spearheaded ACE and MPEG’s Invisible Art/Visible Artists program and luncheon, held the day before the Oscars with the film editing nominees.
The program is slated to be held Saturday in a virtual environment because of the pandemic.
A Los Angeles native, Adler made a name for herself in the field of editing at a time when it was dominated by men. She entered the business in the ’50s, when she was recently divorced, in order to earn enough money to send her son and daughter to college. That began with a job as a secretary making $115 a week at Bronson Studios in Hollywood.
After Bronson, she moved to Ziv Productions. “My boss [Don Tait] left Ziv and went to 20th Century Fox when they were just starting up their TV division. He called me up one day and said, ‘We need someone who can cut commercials into the TV shows,'” Adler said in an interview published in the 2015 ACE Eddie Awards program, the year she received its prestigious Career Achievement Award.
“I had never touched film before but I had seen what the guys had been doing. The only other females at the Ziv editorial department were the librarian and one assistant.”
Her next few jobs included stints at Four Star Productions and Paramount Pictures working with editors such as John Woodcock, whom she assisted on the John Wayne-starring El Dorado (1967), directed by Howard Hawks. She then landed a job at Warner Bros. assisting on The Bill Cosby Show and was promoted to editor three months later.
Adler also edited such acclaimed ’70s telefilms as The Girl Most Likely to …, starring Stockard Channing; Thursday’s Game, starring Gene Wilder; and Huckleberry Finn, starring Ron Howard, before landing on Telly Savalas’ Kojak.
She joined The Rockford Files in 1975 and stayed with that show to its 1979 conclusion and worked with series star James Garner on the 1978 telefilm The New Maverick and the 1981-82 series Bret Maverick.
“They just don’t make actors like James Garner anymore,” she said in her Eddies interview. “He was a wonderful human being and an aw-shucks kind of guy. What you saw on the screen was what he gave you in life.”
Her TV résumé also included Hunter, The Rousters, She’s in the Army Now and Wild Jack.
In addition to her years of service to ACE, she was an active member of the Editors Guild for more than a half-century. She joined the board in 1983 and in 1992 was elected secretary — a role she held until she retired in 2018. The guild honored her with a special service award at its 85th anniversary event in 2012.
She is survived by her children, Carol and Gary, and their families. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Motion Picture Television Fund.
“I had more fun, I loved working, I looked forward to getting up every morning and going to work,” she said after receiving her ACE achievement award. “So many people can’t say that.”
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