November 4, 2016
Kenny Hall Eulogized at USC
Music editor, beloved educator remembered by Jon Burlingame
LOS ANGELES—Veteran music editor and beloved educator Kenny Hall was eulogized as a top professional and a warm and caring mentor at a memorial service Tuesday night on the USC campus.
Hall, a music editor for films and television dating back to 1959, died Aug. 25 after a short illness. For the past decade he had held the Ken Wannberg Endowed Chair in Music Editing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, teaching courses on sound and an especially popular class titled "Directing the Composer." The memorial was attended by more than 200 people, including colleagues from the film world, fellow professors and many of his former students.
Hall's nearly 150 feature-film credits as a music editor include such classics as E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Somewhere in Time, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and L.A. Confidential; and in television, an estimated 350 episodes of Peyton Place, the original Mission: Impossible series and the Emmy-winning Eleanor and Franklin. Over his long career he worked closely with composers including Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Lalo Schifrin, John Barry, Alex North, Henry Mancini, Maurice Jarre, Marvin Hamlisch, Miklos Rozsa, Lionel Newman and Bill Conti.
Cinematic Arts Dean Elizabeth Daley introduced the event, saying that Hall "was so much a part of this school. He loved teaching, and he was loved by the people here." Students, she said, "will always carry with them what Kenny taught them." A plaque in his memory is shortly to be installed, she said.
Interspersed throughout the program were clips from an in-progress documentary in which Hall talked about his career and the people with whom he worked.
Don Hall, a professor in the cinema school (and no relation), recalled first meeting him when they worked on the TV series Peyton Place at 20th Century-Fox in the mid-1960s (Don as sound editor, Kenny as music editor). It was Don Hall who suggested that, after the 2004 death of his close friend Goldsmith, Kenny might like to teach a semester or two. It turned into a second career for him.
Scoring mixer Bruce Botnick recalled doing more than 100 films with Hall, mostly with composer Goldsmith. He spoke of "Kenny's sensibilities and respect for the director's cinematic vision" and the fact that Hall embraced technical advances in his field, first editing on optical film, then 35mm magnetic film, then the world of digital editing.
Former music editor Dan Carlin, now chair of the scoring program at USC's Thornton School of Music, called his old friend "an extraordinarily gifted music editor" who understood how music could support and enhance drama. He added that "he had room in his huge heart for all of us" and said that he had "never known a teacher who loved his students more than Kenny."
A surprise guest was Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, about whom the 1993 football movie Rudy was made. He had met Hall during Goldsmith's recording sessions for the score and the two had remained friends over the years, Ruettiger sometimes visiting Hall's classes at USC. He praised Hall's skills in the editing room and called him "a true angel."
Composer Austin Wintory, who was in Hall's first USC class in 2005 and has gone on to prominence, especially in the video-game world, called him "an inspiration" and said that Hall was always eager to "celebrate the successes" of former students. "I'd like to think that he's just over my shoulder," he said.
Members of the Hall family attended, as well as composers John Debney, Cliff Eidelman and Tyler Bates; Jerry Goldsmith's widow Carol, and other members of the film and music communities of Los Angeles. A montage of Hall's life was accompanied by music from films on which he worked.
©2016 Jon Burlingame