Else Blangsted, Holocaust Survivor and Film Music Editor, Dies at 99

Blangsted’s work included the scores for “Star Trek IV” and “The Color Purple”

else blangsted
Courtesy of Deborah Oppenheimer

Else Blangsted, a holocaust survivor who became a successful film music editor on movies like “Star Trek IV — The Voyage Home” and “The Color Purple,” died at her home in Los Angeles of natural causes at the age of 99.

Born in Wurzburg, Germany, Blangsted came of age in a Jewish family as the Nazis took power. As a teenager, she gave birth to a daughter out of wedlock but was told the child was stillborn. She fled Germany in 1937 and eventually made it to Hollywood, where she took on jobs on movie sets including as an extra in the Cecil B. DeMille film “Samson & Delilah.”

After some apprentice work, she took a job as a music editor, starting in television before moving in 1955 to a film career that saw her work with composers like Dave Grusin and Henry Mancini and filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, John Huston, Brian De Palma and Richard Donner.

In a film career that spanned 35 years, Blangsted’s work included films like “In Cold Blood,” “Tootsie,” “On Golden Pond,” “License to Kill,” “Ordinary People,” and “The Goonies.” She retired after working on the score for De Palma’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” in 1990, and in 2006, she became the first music editor to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, being honored at the ceremony by Robert Redford.

In 1984 — two years after the death of her husband, film editor Folmar Blangsted — she reunited with her daughter, then 48, after believing for years that she had died at birth. Today, Blangsted is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She passed away three weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

“Else endured the rise of fascism and prevailed, even in Hollywood. Her indefatigable will, her fierce commitment to the work, her loyalty to those she loved, and her contempt of the banal made her a legend and a force to be reckoned with,” read a statement from actor James Cromwell, who was a close friend of Blangsted. “To Else, everything good had music, and when she heard the music, she danced. We met at a wedding when she walked up to me and said, ‘You want to dance?’ And, boy, could she dance. We danced together for 30 years, and our last was as sublime as our first. She was my best friend, and, take her for all in all, I shall not look upon her like again.”