John Travers, Well-Respected Documentary Writer and Editor, Dies at 57

Courtesy Kent Hagen
John Travers

The half-brother of the late folk singer Mary Travers, he was still tweaking the World War II documentary 'Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story' at the time of his death.

John Travers, a veteran editor, writer and director on feature documentaries, has died. He was 57.

Travers, a half-brother of the late folk singer Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, was found dead Tuesday in his apartment in the Hollywood Hills, fellow editor Kent Hagen told The Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death has been determined.

The tireless Travers most recently wrote and edited the documentary Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story, about a military man who, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the early 1940s, led the last cavalry charge in U.S. Army history.

The film is based on a 1990 book co-written by Ramsey and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Stephen J. Rivele (Oliver Stone’s Nixon) and narrated by Josh Brolin.

"John's last hours on the planet were on the computer editing our film to make it as great as possible," said Steven Barber, president of Vanilla Fire Productions, the company behind Never Surrender. He said Travers worked "a 100 hours a week" on the project.

"Let's put it this way: He made amateurs look like professionals," said Hagen.

And Bob Murawski, Oscar-winning editor on The Hurt Locker, said that "John was a total filmmaker who wrote, shot, directed and edited with great proficiency. He poured 100 percent of his heart and soul into every project he worked on."

Never Surrender has played in New York and Los Angeles to qualify for Oscar consideration and will be shown during Veterans Day weekend on Nov. 13 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Travers also directed and with producer John Summa edited The Resurrection of Victor Jara, which will screen next month at the 38th annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Cuba. The documentary, about the late Chilean singer-songwriter known as the "Bob Dylan of South America," was a project that took 12 years to complete, Summa told THR.

Travers "helped me get Bono, Emma Thompson, Peter Yarrow, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins and so many more into the film and get their support," Summa noted. "He directed the shoots of each one of these revered artists with his obsessive attention to every last detail of lighting, sound, etc. … he was an unsung hero of Hollywood."

Travers also wrote and directed a 1991 film that documented a Peter, Paul and Mary reunion tour that took place a decade earlier. Mary Travers battled leukemia and died in 2009 at age 72.

While attending the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, Travers won a student Academy Award in 1986 for writing, directing, producing and editing the 44-minute film Jenny, about a high school girl who discovers a mirror that reflects her past.

His résumé also includes editing the 2010 feature Meeting Spencer, starring Jeffrey Tambor.

Travers is believed to have no survivors.