John Carter, Pioneering African-American Film Editor, Dies at 95

His résumé includes ‘The Heartbreak Kid,’ ‘Friday,’ ‘Lean on Me’ and the Oscar-nominated MLK documentary ‘Montgomery to Memphis.’

John Carter, the pioneering African-American film editor who worked on The Heartbreak Kid, Paper Lion and Barbershop and shaped powerful documentaries about Martin Luther King Jr. and Solomon Northup, has died. He was 95.

Carter died Aug. 13 at his home in White Plains, New York, his daughter Carolyn told The Hollywood Reporter.

The first African-American to join the American Cinema Editors society, Carter co-edited the George Plimpton football tale Paper Lion (1968); Lean on Me (1989), starring Morgan Freeman as real-life high school principal Joe Clark; The Karate Kid Part III (1989), one of three features he did with director John G. Avildsen; and Men of Honor (2000), about African-American Navy diver Carl Brashear.

His editing skills also were on display in the Marlon Brando and George C. Scott mystery The Formula (1980); in The Heartbreak Kid (1973) and Mikey and Nicky (1976), both directed by Elaine May; and in the Ice Cube comedies Friday (1995) and Barbershop (2002).

“John Carter was a beautiful spirit, and it could be felt and seen through his work,” director Bill Duke, who partnered with him on Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, The Cemetery Club, Deep Cover and TV’s The Killing Floor, told THR. “His craft and spirit influenced my films in a very positive way.”

Following the assassination of King on April 4, 1968, producer Ely Landau approached Sidney Lumet (he had produced the director’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Pawnbroker) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) to begin work on chronicling the life of the slain civil rights leader. (It would be Lumet’s only foray into the documentary genre and just the second film that Carter would edit.)



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