Tom Priestly, Oscar-Nominated Editor of ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 91

The son of playwright J.B. Priestly also edited films like “Exorcist II” and “Return of the Pink Panther”

Tom Priestley
Tom Priestley (CREDIT: Getty Images)

Tom Priestly, the veteran film editor who earned an Oscar nomination for his work on the 1972 film “Deliverance,” died on December 25 at the age of 91.

His death was announced Monday by the J.B. Priestly Society, an organization Priestly led as its president to preserve and share the works of his father, who was an acclaimed playwright and novelist.

“It with the utmost sadness we announce the death of our President Tom Priestley,” the J.B. Priestley Society said in a statement. “Tom, who was J. B. Priestley’s only son, became one of this country’s finest film editors. Perhaps his most famous film was ‘Deliverance’ for which he was Oscar nominated. He was a most charming man.”

A London native and graduate of King’s College, Priestly got his start as a sound editor at the famous Shepperton Studios in Surrey, getting his start working on films like the 1961 child-focused crime drama “Whistle Down the Wind.”

Priestly’s most famous contributions as a film editor came from collaborating with “Deliverance” director John Boorman. Along with the dark 1972 survival thriller, starring Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds, Priestly also edited Boorman’s 1970 class drama “Leo the Last” and the 1977 film “Exorcist II: The Heretic.”

Priestly’s other credits in the 1970s include Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers’ comedy “Return of the Pink Panther” in 1975 and Roman Polanski’s 1979 film “Tess.” His final film was the Michael Radford drama “White Mischief” in 1987.

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