Joel Bender, an editor, director, writer and producer who directed “Karla” and “Gas Pump Girls,” died in his sleep due to natural causes on April 24, his wife confirmed to Variety. He was 72.
Throughout his career, Bender directed 11 independent features and numerous episodes of TV shows. He edited over 20 feature films, including “Karla,” “Italian Ties,” “Bad Guys,” “Vlad,” “The Runnin’ Kind” and “The Cursed,” and TV shows such as “The Great Race,” “Survivor” and “Power Rangers.”
Bender was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended the School of the Visual Arts, where he made award-winning short films at the age of 19. He worked as an assistant to film historian William K. Iverson, and when his school sent him to exhibit his films at The Film Theatre in London, Bender met and befriended director Abraham Polonsky.
While in London, Bender connected with November Books to publish a book about notable film directors. When he returned to the U.S., he approached Otto Preminger to observe the legendary director for three months and write an on-set observers view of his experience.
Bender worked as a film historian at the Museum of Modern Art, where he helped preserve film. In New York, he became known for his vast collection of rare films.
Later in life, Bender worked as a guest lecturer, teaching college classes and leading workshops on film history and directing.
Bender is survived by his wife of 28 years, Manette Beth Rosen, with whom he collaborated professionally. A celebration of life will be held in the future.
“The world has forever changed with the loss of Joel Bender,” said Rosen. “He was one-of-a-kind, witty, charming, compassionate, creative and intelligent. Joel will be missed by his loving family and many friends. You were the greatest, baby, and will be forever in our hearts loving you, the brightest star in the heavens.”