Norman Hollyn, Film Editor on 'Heathers,' Music Editor on 'Sophie's Choice,' Dies at 66

Norman Hollyn - Publicity - H 2019
Peter Zakhary/Tilt Photo

He also taught at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and wrote the essential 'Film Editing Room Handbook.'

Norman Hollyn, the respected film editor and music editor who worked on such films as Sophie's Choice, Heathers and The Cotton Club, has died. He was 66.

Hollyn was lecturing students from Tokyo University of the Arts in Yokohama, Japan, where he died Sunday night from a coronary embolism and subsequent cardiac arrest, Elizabeth Daley, dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, wrote on Facebook.

An acknowledged expert in his field, Hollyn was a full professor at SCA and the inaugural holder of its Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Editing. "Norm was such an important member of our faculty for many years, and his loss is devastating," Daley wrote.

"There are truly not enough words to pay tribute to one of the most wonderful and talented humans we've had the honor to know," the American Cinema Editors wrote on Twitter.

Born in New York on May 11, 1952, Hollyn graduated from Stony Brook University in 1974 with a degree in theater arts. Early in his career, he served as an apprentice sound editor on Bob Fosse's Lenny (1974), an uncredited apprentice editor on Sidney Lumet's Network (1976), an assistant music editor on Milos Forman's Hair (1979) and an assistant editor on Alan Parker's Fame (1980).

He went on to work as a music supervisor on Arthur Penn's Four Friends (1981) and as a music editor on Amityville II: The Possession (1982) and the Rodney Dangerfield starrer Easy Money (1983).

Hollyn was also film editor on the 1993 Oliver Stone-produced ABC miniseries Wild Palms and on It's Pat: The Movie (1994).

Hollyn traveled the world to teach editing, hosting workshops in such locales as Jordan, Shanghai and Beijing and at the Sundance Film Festival, and he served as a consultant for DreamWorks and Pixar.

He was the author of The Film Editing Room Handbook, first published in 1986. Film editor Mark Goldblatt (The Terminator, Starship Troopers, True Lies) called it "an "absolutely essential book for all assistant editors, indie filmmakers and those who aspire to break into the industry."

"It takes a certain type of person to be comfortable in the field of editing," Hollyn wrote in the introduction to the book's fourth edition. "The ability to work long days, long weeks and long months in a small, crowded room with the same small group of people is a necessity. You must be able to concentrate on the tiniest detail and keep working until it is right. Editing can be an obsession — good editing almost certainly is."

Survivors include his wife, Janet, and daughter, Elizabeth.