Finn won an Emmy for ensemble casting for “61*” and won three Artios awards from the Casting Society of America.
She became a casting director after careers as an actress and a drama teacher, moving to Hollywood at the age of 43 and launching Mali Finn Casting in 1989. Until her retirement due to cancer in 2006, she cast more than 80 feature films and TV series, including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “The Client,” “Your Friends and Neighbors” “The Green Mile,” “Wonder Boys”(2000), “8 Mile” “The Assassination of Richard Nixon” and Palme d’Or winner “Elephant.”
Born Mary Alice Mann in Danville, Ill., she graduated the U. of Minnesota and performed as an actress in local productions as well as touring with the USO. For 15 years she taught English and drama in elementary school, high school and college.
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In 1981, at the age of 43, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles, where she entered the casting field. Starting out with Dodie McLean, casting director for early Quinn Martin productions, Finn went on to work with casting director/manager Michael McLean and casting director Lynn Stalmaster, where in 1987 she took the lead on “The Untouchables.”
She worked closely with filmmakers including Curtis Hanson, Joel Schumacher, John Schlesinger, Gus Van Sant, David Gordon Greene, Kathryn Bigelow, Carl Franklin, Jim Abrahams, Matt Williams and Larry & Andy Wachowski and James Cameron, who wrote to her after the opening of “Titanic,” “You have the nose of a bloodhound for finding talent.”
She is survived by her husband, Donn, a son, her mother, a brother, a sister and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles in early 2008. Donations may be sent Film Independent, Project:Involve — Mali Finn Fund, 9911 Pico Blvd., 11th fl., Los Angeles CA 90036 or Hospice by the Bay, in memory of Mali Finn, 17 East Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Suite 100, Larkspur, CA 94939.