Else Blangsted, a Holocaust survivor and film music editor who worked on classic films such as “The Goonies” and “The Color Purple,” died May 1. She was 99.
Blangsted died from natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, according to her cousin Deborah Oppenheimer, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and producer. Blangsted was three weeks short of her 100th birthday.
Born May 22, 1920, Blangsted’s career as a film music editor spanned four decades, leading her to work with some of the most well known filmmakers and composers in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Tony Richardson, Sydney Pollack, Richard Pryor, Carl Reiner, Stanley Kramer, Richard Donner and many more.
Oppenheimer told Variety, “You know the music, you know the movies and you know the stars who were in the movies. You know the directors who made the movies. But her music is what provoked the emotions and made audiences laugh and cry. Many of us will say she was one of a kind, but she was defiantly and distinctly one of a kind. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. We met at the funeral of a relative who she didn’t like and I didn’t know, so we sat at the back and were clowning about.”
When I first moved out here, she was fiercely devoted to the composers and musicians who she worked with. She was focused on the work. To think, she was an eyewitness to the work of Cecil B. DeMille and the Warner brothers all the way up to “Tootsie.” You don’t meet people whose careers span that length of time.”
Before her successful career in Hollywood, Blangsted grew up in a Jewish family in Nazi Germany. She gave birth to a daughter when she was a teen, but was told the baby was stillborn. When Blangsted was 64-years old, she finally met her then 48-year-old daughter she thought had died. In 1937, she left Germany and came to Hollywood where she began working as a nanny for producer Mervyn LeRoy before later appearing in Cecil B. Demille’s “Samson and Delilah.”
In addition to “The Goonies” and “The Color Purple,” Blangsted went on to work on films such as “In Cold Blood,” “License to Kill,” “Absence of Malice,” “Dead Men Do’t Wear Plaid,” “Goin’ South,” “The Electric Horseman,” “And Justice for All,” and “The Bronx,” among many others.
At the age of 88, she was the first music editor to be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors.
“The loss of Else Blangsted is a tragic milestone in my life,” said composer Dave Grusin, who frequently collaborated with Blangsted. “For years, she was my anchor in the turbulent and frantic business of scoring for film. And while the ultimate use of film music is to enhance the movie, we also needed to satisfy the powers that be: the directors and producers (and sometimes the stars.) But for me, the most pertinent question about my own work always was: ‘Does Else think it’s okay?’ She was my personal quality guru, and she extended that humanity into many other parts of my life.”
Else is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.