Robert Parrish, 79, director, childhood actor and Oscar-winning film editor, died Dec. 4 at Southampton Hospital on Long Island. He lived in Sag Harbor.
Parrish won an Academy Award winner in 1947 for “Body and Soul,” the first feature he edited (with Francis Lyon). He also directed such pictures as “Cry Danger,” “The Purple Plain,” “Fire Down Below” and “The Wonderful Country.”
He was widely known in the Hollywood community as an erudite raconteur and memoirist. His two books, “Growing Up in Hollywood” and “Hollywood Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” overflow with first-hand show business lore.
Born Jan. 4,1916, in Columbus, Ga., Parrish was one of four children brought to Hollywood by a movie-mad mother.
All the kids worked in films, but Robert had the luck of working for several top directors, notably John Ford (“Mother Machree,” “Judge Priest,” “The Informer”), Lewis Milestone (“All Quiet on the Western Front”) and Charlie Chaplin, for whom he played a newsboy in “City Lights.”
After appearing in Ford’s “The Prisoner of Shark Island,” Parrish was promoted to assistant editor, then sound editor by Ford. He worked on such pictures as “Young Mr. Lincoln,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Long Voyage Home” and “Tobacco Road.”
During World War II, he joined Ford in the Navy’s Field Photographic Branch and edited the director’s Oscar-winning war documentaries “The Battle of Midway” and “December 7th.”
He co-directed, with Garson Kanin, another docu, “German Manpower.”
Becoming a full editor after the war, Parrish followed “Body and Soul” with Robert Rossen’s Oscar-winner “All the King’s Men,” and also cut “A Double Life,” “No Minor Vices” and “Caught.”
Dick Powell then promoted Parrish to director. He debuted in 1950 with “Cry Danger.”
Several of his 1950s pictures evinced substantial talent, notably his 1954 British thriller “The Purple Plain,” starring Gregory Peck, and his 1959 Western “The Wonderful Country,” with Robert Mitchum.
Among his other 1950s productions were “The Mob,” “The San Francisco Story,” “My Pal Gus,” “Rough Shoot,” “Lucy Gallant” and “Saddle the Wind.”
Working mainly in Europe in the 1960s and early 1970s, his work began slipping. His string of flops began with “In the French Style” and ran through “Up From the Beach,” “Casino Royale,” “The Bobo,” “Duffy,” “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun,” “A Town Called Bastard” and “The Marseille Contract.”
In 1983, he teamed with his friend Bertrand Tavernier to make the documentary “Mississippi Blues.”
He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.