John Carter, the pioneering African-American film editor whose credits spanned 1968’s Paper Lion and the original The Heartbreak Kid through Lean On Me, Barbershop and Madea’s Family Reunion, died August 13 at his home in White Plains, New York. He was 95.
Carter’s death was reported by his family in a notice in The New York Times. He was the first African-American editor to join the American Cinema Editors society.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Carter began his career with Paper Lion, the comedy-drama based on George Plimpton’s New Journalism classic chronicling the author’s first-person account of enduring a grueling Detroit Lions training camp. The film starred Alan Alda as a fictionalized Plimpton.
Prior to Paper Lion, Carter had worked for 12 years at CBS – the family says he was the first African-American film editor employed by network television in New York – finishing his career there as supervising film editor for the award-winning documentary unit Eye On New York.
He left CBS in 1968 to to form his own company John Carter Associates, Inc., with Paper Lion his first film.
In 1970, Carter was an editor on King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery To Memphis, an Oscar-nominated documentary about Martin Luther King Jr. that in 1999 was entered into the National Film Registry.
Milos Forman’s Taking Off followed a year later, earning Carter a BAFTA nomination, and in 1972 he worked on the first of two projects with director Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid, and, in 1976, Mickey and Nickey).
He worked on a trio of John G. Avildsen films: The Formula in 1980, and, in 1989, Lean on Me and The Karate Kid Part III.
Other credits include Robert Townsend’s The Five Heartbeats, Friday, The Cemetery Club, Soul Food, Johnson Family Vacation, Madea’s Family Reunion, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Boomerang and, in 2006 his final credited film, 5up 2down.
Carter is survived by wife Carole, two daughters, a son and their children. A memorial service is set for Saturday, Aug. 25, in White Plains.