Oscar-winning film editor
Oscar-winning film editor Harry Donald Gerstad, whose early associations with helmers Edward Dmytryk and Stanley Kramer influenced his career, died July 17 of natural causes in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 93.
Gerstad came to Hollywood with his father, a cameraman, in 1910. He began his career at the Hal Roach Studios laboratory in 1929. He followed that by working in the Warner Bros. Lab and later worked at Republic Pictures as an assistant.
Shortly after World War II, he began editing features including “The Spiral Staircase” “Till the End of Time” (both 1946), “So Well Remembered” (1947) and “Unknown Island” (1948).
Gerstad worked on several films for Dmytryk at RKO including 1947’s hard-hitting look at bigotry, “Crossfire,” which starred Robert Mitchum, Robert Young and Robert Ryan. Gerstad attributed much of his early success to Dmytryk.
Gerstad moved over to Columbia Pictures as editorial supervisor for Kramer and later recalled those years as “the most productive part of my career.” In 1949 Gerstad edited the Kramer-helmed “Home of the Brave,” a multilayered story about tension and prejudice in combat. He also edited Kramer’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1950) and the Frederic March starrer “Death of a Salesman” (1951).
Gerstad garnered two Oscars — for his editing of “Champion” (1949) and for “High Noon” (1952), which he edited with Elmo Williams. He was also nominated for an Eddie Award for his editing of an episode of the TV series “High Chaparral in 1968.
During the 1950s and ’60s, Gerstad moved successfully between feature films and television, with TV credits including “The Adventures of Superman” and several 1950s “Superman” films that were actually episodes from the TV show compiled into features.
In 1963 he became editorial supervisor for Bing Crosby Prods., and when it closed in 1966, he moved over to Fox Studios, where he edited the “Batman” feature.
He divided his time between Fox and John Wayne’s Batjac Prods. until he retired to Palm Springs in 1973.
Survivors include wife Jody and two nieces.
A celebration of his life will be held in November.