Oscar-winning sound mixer John Keen “Doc” Wilkinson, who mentored his “backroom staff” throughout his long career at Paramount, died April 28 of heart failure at his Southern Californian home. He was 82.
Hartford, Conn., native entered the technical field after studying at a seminary for several years. He earned a Ph.D. from Yale in design and engineering, then promptly moved to Hollywood where he mixed sound on his first Par feature “The Colussus of New York” in 1958.
He went on to mix or record for the Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin pics, Elvis films and the “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke” TV series as well as numerous TV movies, but above all dozens upon dozens of feature films, many of them high-profile including Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Chinatown,” “Black Sunday,” “Days of Heaven,” “Outland,” “Wall Street” and “Marathon Man.”
Though a sound man, he would rarely be heard tooting his own horn about his 14 Oscar noms including his win for “Platoon.”
Par’s head sound mixer continued his career at Glen Glenn Sound Studios and Ryder Sound, from which he retired after a four-decade career in the biz, during which he mentored numerous future pros including John Reitz, who went on to win an Oscar for “The Matrix” and was nommed for “The Perfect Storm.”
He is survived by wife Val Jean, a son and a daughter.
Donations are suggested for the American Cancer Society.