Margaret Booth, longtime supervising editor for MGM throughout Europe and the U.S. who garnered an honorary Oscar in 1978, died Tuesday Oct. 28 at Century City Hospital in Los Angeles. She was 104.
Booth’s career began in 1915 as a negative cutter at a laboratory owned by D.W. Griffith. In 1921, L.B. Mayer took her under his wing as his assistant at his studio. She stayed with him when he joined forces to form MGM in 1924.
Booth hit her stride during the 1930s when she worked closely with the legendary Irving Thalberg and edited such MGM classics as “Ben Hur,” “Dancing Lady” and “Camille.” In 1935 she received an Oscar nomination for her work on the Clark Gable starrer “Mutiny on the Bounty.”
She assumed the post of supervising editor worldwide in 1937 and ultimately was the Lion’s post-production chief and cutting wizard until 1968, when she was lured away from MGM by producer Ray Stark and became the supervising film editor for Rastar Prods., where she worked on the Barbra Streisand blockbusters “Funny Girl” and “The Way We Were.” She also edited the Neil Simon hits “The Sunshine Boys” and “The Goodbye Girl.”
Additional film credits included “The V.I.P.s,” “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “Murder by Death” and “California Suite.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored her with an honorary Academy Award in 1978 for exceptionally distinguished service to the motion picture industry as a film editor.
Booth, who was known as the one person who directors never questioned when it came to a final cut, retired in 1986 following a 71-year career.
She is survived by a cousin, Marie Cetner, and two great-cousins, Nancy Cetner, a TV commercial producer, and Marc Cetner, an editor at the National Enquirer and deputy bureau chief for American Media Inc. Publications in Los Angeles.