John Benton Travers
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1959 - 2016
John Travers, Prolific Hollywood Film Editor, Writer and Director, Dies at 57

John Benton Travers, who over three decades edited numerous films and wrote and directed screenplays, died on Tuesday at his home in Hollywood. He was 57.

Mr. Travers was an authoritative figure in Hollywood -- known for his encyclopedic knowledge of film and focused working style. He often stretched the editor's role, rewriting scripts and directing and shooting "pick-up" scenes to strengthen the story structure and fulfill the director's cinematic vision.

"He made amateurs look like professionals," said Kent Hagen, who shared an editing studio with Mr. Travers on Hollywood Boulevard. It wasn't unusual for him to work through the night. During free time he wrote screenplays and filmed events as a volunteer for Grauman's Egyptian Theater.

Devotion to the creative arts ran in the Travers family. Born in New Orleans, Mr. Travers was the son of late novelist Robert Travers and half-brother to the late Mary Travers of the famous folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary.

Raised in Westport, Connecticut, Mr. Travers earned a film degree from the University of Bridgeport and began accruing prizes for dramatic storytelling and capturing the exquisite texture of a moment through cinematography, special effects and editing. He won the Student Academy Award for his short, "Jenny," in 1986, the American Cinema Editors Student "Eddie" Award (First Place), the New England Film Festival and Nissan/FOCUS awards, and a nomination for the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel award.

Landing in Los Angeles in 1986, Mr. Travers launched his professional career at Cannon Films and Roger Corman's New Horizons, assisting future Academy Award-winning editor Zach Staenberg ("The Matrix"). With co-writer Alice Horrigan he became an Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting finalist for "Conversations in Public Places," which he directed and was released as "Deep Down," starring George Segal.

Mr. Travers lived in an apartment in the Hollywood Hills by Yamashiro Restaurant, with sweeping views of Los Angeles. He worked on myriad films, documentaries, trailers and television shows. Many gained recognition, including the short, "Night Train," honored at the Canadian Independent Film Festival.

Most recently Mr. Travers wrote and edited "Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story" (directed by Steven Barber and Matt Hausle), about the man who led the U.S. Army's last cavalry charge during the 1940s Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

He collaborated with John Summa to direct and co-edit "The Resurrection of Victor Jara," winning the Vermont International Film Festival's Ben & Jerry Award in 2015. Honoring the acclaimed folk singer who was brutally executed by the Chilean dictatorship in 1973, the documentary includes interviews by Mr. Travers with Pete Seeger, Bono, Peter Yarrow, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins and other musicians and will screen at Havana's 38th Annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in December.

Mr. Travers is survived by nieces Alicia Travers Bonney and Erika Travers Marshall, and second cousins Mary Jane Williams and Jim Duke. His many friends in Connecticut and Los Angeles will miss him dearly.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from Nov. 7 to Nov. 8, 2016.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
November 2, 2020
NEVER SURRENDER PREMIERE on Nov. 13, 2016 John Travers wrote the script for the documentary. I MISS HIM and THINK OF HIM ON HIS ANNIVERSARY Raquel Ramsey, widow of Col.Edwin P. Ramsey
I think of John as the most hardworking script writer, and member of Vanilla Fire Productions who made possible the story of my husband in the documentary, NEVER SURRENDER: THE ED RAMSEY STORY. Love and prayers, Raqui Ramsey
Raquel Ramsey
November 1, 2019
I remember John Travers as he was working with me on the documentary of my husband, Col. Edwin P. Ramsey, 26th Cavalry PS. "NEVER SURRENDER: THE ED RAMSEY STORY" premiered on Nov. 13, 2016. I miss him and his great contribution to the arts and the motion picture industry as a superb writer. MAY GOD BLESS YOU and WE WILL KEEP YOU IN OUR HEARTS! Love and prayers, Raqui Ramsey
Raquel Ramsey
May 10, 2017
My thoughts and prayers go out to Alice Horrigan, John Suma, and John Travers' family as you walk through this grief. I never had the pleasure of meeting John, and that is certainly my loss. His brillance and authenticity are obvious. Respectfully, Mary Byrne
December 2, 2016
My sympathy goes out to the family during your time of grief. May God's loving-kindness comfort you and help you through this difficult time. Psalms 119:50,76

November 19, 2016
I had the pleasure of spending time with John when I lived in Los Angeles. My partner had an office on The Lot where Jon kept his studio and office. We would all get together for drinks at The Formosa or throw impromptu parties at The Lot after business hours. John was always such a gentle and kind man - very funny too, in his own quiet and dry way. He loved music and my favorite memories with him are of sitting around discussing bands, albums and the current state of music. When we moved out of LA and onto the coast, we would occasionally talk about John, how we missed his company and how we wished he would get on Facebook so we could keep in touch. John was never going to get on Facebook or Twitter though. If you wanted to see John, you would have to drive to him and knock on his door! I wish we had done just that as John's passing was sudden and unexpected. Another constant reminder not to take anyone for granted and to let the people in your life who you appreciate know what you think of them. I am very grateful I was able to spend any time with this genuinely humble, funny and kind man.
Travis Braden
November 16, 2016
John was a brilliant guy, keenly sharp, knowledgeable and aware. He was a sincere and passionate guy. He was a filmmaker's filmmaker. Although I'd known John for over 30 years, the past decade had only been chance encounters with him - over and over. Random times both in LA and in CT. In retrospect - who knows, maybe fate played a hand in that.

I knew John in Westport before we moved to LA, however most of our time together was in Hollywood. He gave me my first job in film in LA, assistant editing a feature he was cutting. He put me in his first feature film as an actor, and he always attended the gigs in town that one of my bands played.

I think the thing about John that sort of tells it all is that no matter what had transpired in a given year, or if we went the whole time without seeing one another - like clockwork, every year, long before Facebook, which he never joined anyway, John called to wish me a happy birthday. I think that told volumes about what he felt about our friendship.

I had just seen John a couple of months before he passed, another chance encounter - this time at a hamburger shop next to the Chinese Theatre. I was there for a screening of a movie that I mixed. We parted ways, and without any discussion and unbeknownst to me, John bought a ticket and saw it. The next day he wrote me a lengthy email about the film. How he loved the sound work that I did, and asked detailed questions about it, and then pointed out various story points, and then launched into a long view of the filmmaking, the editing, the execution and the story.

There are too many things to say about John, he was a singular personality and someone I was honored to spend time with, learn from, and call my friend.

Rest in peace John
Woody Woodhall
November 15, 2016
My family was fortunate to meet John when he was a student at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. We were all members of the same church in Westport and he approached my daughter and husband to help him with his student film. That film was "Jenny" which won the Student Academy Award! My daughter, Michelle, played the young Jenny and my husband, Greg, played her father.
We could only work on weekends because of school and work, but we found John patient, persistent, precise and a lot of fun. We knew then he was destined for Hollywood.
Both coasts will miss you John.
Our prayers to his family.
Greg, Nancy, Michelle and Adam Lau
November 8, 2016
I had the privilege of knowing and working with John as he wrote the script for my husband's documentary, "NEVER SURRENDER: THE ED RAMSEY STORY." He was the kindest soul and a Gentle Giant in everything he did as he was a perfectionist. I will miss him so much and I know he has joined my husband, Col. Edwin P. Ramsey, 26th Cavalry PS up above and they will watch the Premiere together. We will honor him and his work as we remember my darling Ed. Love and prayers, Dr. Raquel R. Ramsey
Raquel Ramsey
November 8, 2016
John was my friend, my student and my colleague. He was an enigmatic being full of mystery and knowledge and I will miss him dearly.

I have so many great memories of John from the salad days at the Department of Cinema at the University of Bridgeport. I remember many times coming back from NYC and driving north on I95 I would look over at our Berhard Center and the lights on the eighth floor were always on. John was one of the early keepers of the light. He was the most dedicated the student film pioneer. He constantly stayed up all night with his eyes and hands on a Moviola flatbed, editing his latest project. It was a world that he lived in and a world that he would die in. He sacrificed all and everything for the art of film, including moving across the country far away from his loving mother who loved him deeply and worried about him constantly.

In my years in Los Angeles I didn't see John that regularly but we kept in touch so I know that he was doing well. One day I was driving my old car down Vine heading for the Hollywood hills. The Santa Ana wind was blowing blast furnace gusts of hot dust and air down Hollywood Boulevard to ocean. And suddenly there was John crossing the street at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. He had on the Travers uniform, dusty jacket and Frye boots. His straight hair was blowing back in the wind. It was a slow motion moment etched in my mind's eye. Then a west-bound LA bus zoomed through the intersection, crossing between John and my car's vantage point. As the bus cleared the intersection John was now nowhere in sight. It was as if he had been swallowed up by the speed of the bus and the Santa Ana wind. I sat in my car at the light in a stupor. Did I really see that or was it my imagination? The car behind me was honking impatiently and I drove on with a smile my enigmatic friend.

Last year I was coming back from gig and I was driving down Saugatuck Ave on the Norwalk and Westport line. All of a sudden I see this tall lanky guy walking along the road headed toward Westport. Could it be him? I passed him by and sure enough it was John walking along the road. I pulled into the next mansion driveway and waited. When he caught up to my car I rolled down the window and asked him if he needed a ride. He looked at me slowly and then recognizing me, he didn't miss a beat and jumped in the passenger side with a big smile. He was genuinely happy to see me. He also happy because his film life was going nicely and he had just made a fresh transfer of Jenny his amazing student film. We made plans for dinner that never materialized; he left for LA the next day and that was the last time I saw him. A few months back he called my house and left his LA number and of course I rarely pick up messages on the land-line so I missed him.

I feel lucky to have known and mentored the great film artist, John Travers.
His death is a great loss to the world of film.
He will be missed.
Gerald Wenner
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