Orven Schanzer: Fox Film Editor to Marilyn, and More

Orven Schanzer, a first assistant editor on several of Marilyn’s films during his 45-year tenure at Twentieth Century Fox, has died aged 97.

Born in Kansas City in 1924, Orven served with the U.S. Air Force during World War II. In 1947 – as a young Marilyn Monroe worked on her first contract with Fox, Orven took a job in the studio’s mailroom. For three years, ‘Orv’ was an errand boy to production chief Darryl F. Zanuck. Although most of his work in post-production was uncredited at the time, his IMDB listing begins with the 1951 sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still. This was followed by We’re Not Married!, an anthology film whose all-star cast included Marilyn, in 1952.

By 1953, Marilyn had attained top billing. Orven’s Variety and Hollywood Reporter obituaries state that he worked on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, while IMDB has added How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), River of No Return (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), and Bus Stop (1956) to his resume. He went on to work with another blonde bombshell, Jayne Mansfield, in The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and The Wayward Bus (1957.) His other notable works from this time include horror classic The Fly (1958), and Compulsion (1959), starring Orson Welles.

Schanzer was one of twelve editors assigned to Cleopatra, the epic saga starring Elizabeth Taylor, which brought Fox to the brink of bankruptcy. In 1964, he worked on Goodbye Charlie, a film first offered to (and rejected by) Marilyn, starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis. He went on to work in television, and further big-screen ventures from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) to Alien (1979), before branching out into worldwide distribution until his retirement in 1992.

‘It was a love affair with Fox, it was so wonderful,’ Orven recalled in 2019. ‘I’d wake up in the morning and really couldn’t wait until I got to the studio.’ In later years, he co-founded the LA-based charity, Ambor Schanzer Fight Against Neuropathy (ASFAN), named after his sister who also suffered from the degenerative nerve disease.