Thelma Schoonmaker

Active - 1963 - 2019  |   Born - Jan 3, 1940 in Algiers, Algeria  |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Film, TV & Radio, Comedy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Thelma Schoonmaker's career has been shaped in large part by her long association with Martin Scorsese. She has edited every one of his features from Raging Bull onward, capturing the Best Editing Oscar for her work on that film as well as The Aviator and The Departed . She was married to the legendary British director Michael Powell for the last decade of his life.

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  • Grew up in Aruba; her father worked for Standard Oil and worked outside of the United States until settling in New Jersey in 1955.
  • Studied political science and Russian at Cornell.  Audited classes for Vladimir Nabokov, who was a professor at the school at the time.
  • Wanted to be a foreign diplomat, but didn't pass her final exam with the State Department after expressing her dislike of the apartheid in South Africa.
  • Answered an ad in the New York Times for an assistant film editor in 1962.
  • Met Martin Scorsese when she enrolled in a six-week summer course in filmmaking at New York University; she helped edit his short film What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963).
  • Edited every Scorsese feature film since Raging Bull (1980).
  • With her nomination for Hugo in 2011, tied with Michael Kahn for the most Academy Award nominations for editing.