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George Bowers, a film editor in Hollywood for nearly four decades whose credits include Sleeping With the Enemy, A League of Their Own and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, has died, his daughter announced Thursday. He was 68.
Bowers, who also directed a young Johnny Depp in one of the actor’s first films, Private Resort (1985), died Aug. 18 of complications related to heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Bowers collaborated with director Penny Marshall as she made a transition from acting to directing. Like Marshall a native of the Bronx, he served as an associate producer on her feature debut, Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), and edited her films A League of Their Own (1992), Renaissance Man (1994) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996).
“He was a great guy, he will be sorely missed,” Marshall told The Hollywood Reporter from New York. “I could not have gotten through the films without him.” She visited with Bowers’ family at their home after he died.
For director Joseph Ruben, Bowers edited The Stepfather (1987), True Believer (1989), Sleeping With the Enemy (1991), The Good Son (1993) and Money Train (1995), and for director Malcolm Lee, he worked on Roll Bounce (2005) and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins (2008), his final film.
Bowers also edited The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), Shoot to Kill (1988), writer-director Eddie Murphy’s Harlem Nights (1989), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999) and the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell (2001).
Born July 6, 1944, Bowers secured a job at ABC out of high school with the help of his friend and mentor, Hugh Robertson, one of the first African Americans in the Motion Picture Editors Guild. He then served a three-year tour with the U.S. Army, receiving training as a photographer with the Signal Corps.
Bowers then joined Byro Productions, a small company co-founded by Robertson that specialized in producing, writing, directing, shooting and editing “featurettes.” Here, he met apprentice editor Irene Brun, whom he married in 1969.
With the Civil Rights movement providing an opportunity to explore the black experience on film and television, Bowers edited segments for Tony Brown’s Black Journal on TV and the features Come Back Charleston Blue (1972) for Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and the documentary Save the Children (1973), a project for Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH.
Bowers began directing and producing shorts for public television like the children’s series Vegetable Soup. He was awarded an American Film Institute grant to produce and direct his own short film, Helen, the story of a young Jewish woman trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Bowers moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and edited several features for independent production and distribution company Crown International, including The Pom Pom Girls (1976), Van Nuys Blvd. (1979), Galaxina (1980) and The Beach Girls (1982). He helmed the horror thriller The Hearse (1980), My Tutor (1983) starring Crispin Glover and Private Resort with Depp as well as episodes of CBS’ The Dukes of Hazzard.
A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Cinema Editors and the Directors Guild of America, Bowers taught editing at USC’s School of Cinema-Television and in Cuba at EICTV (Escuela International de Cinema y Television).
In addition to his wife, survivors include daughters Tanya and Natalie and sisters Eunice, Joann and Georgene. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the National Black Programming Consortium at 68 E. 131st St. in New York.
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