In Memoriam – Jerrold L. Ludwig, ACE

If the hallmark of every successful editor is to have elevated all the material they touch few can have done so as consistently and with as much humility as Jerrold (Jerry) Ludwig, ACE, who has died aged 80.

His four-decade long career is studded with multiple ACE Eddie and Primetime Emmy Award® nominations and wins, capped by an ACE Career Achievement Award.

Ludwig’s parents were immigrants to the United States from Russia but it was his uncle Edward who had a lasting influence on Jerrold’s career. Edward Ludwig (born Isador Litwack) was a silent-movie actor turned director of shorts and B-movie features including The Fighting Seabees (1944) starring John Wayne.

“He lived above us and so I got my film knowledge from him,” Ludwig told ACE on the occasion of his Career Achievement Award in 2019. “I remember him saying that a good way to become a director would be to go through editorial which kind of put it into my mind that the movies was something I wanted to do.”

In the early ‘60s Edward secured his nephew an interview at Universal with the head of the art department responsible for designing posters and trade ads but Jerrold had his mind set on climbing the ladder. “I’d pass the editorial department and go in and ask if they needed anybody.” His persistence paid off when he landed the job of apprentice film editor.

Universal at that time was churning out dozens of popular syndicated TV shows and Ludwig soon gained a reputation as a go-to guy for projects that were short of a helping hand. He worked for Douglas Stewart, already an experienced editor who went on to edit Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Right Stuff (1983) and with whom Ludwig shared editing duties on Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II (1976-77). This sequel to the hit miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man earned Ludwig his first Eddie and Emmy nominations.

Ludwig stayed at Universal for 14 years working on shows like Wagon Train, McHale’s Navy and Ironside, assistant editing the documentary Survival of Spaceship Earth (1972) and earning sole editing credits on shows such as A Question of Answers (1975), Life, Liberation and the Pursuit of Death (1975) and episodes of classic detective series Kojak (1975-76). Then, in a career turning point, he struck out on his own.

For director Lou Antonio he made The Critical List (1978), The Chinese Typewriter (1979) and Silent Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story (1979) which earned Ludwig a second Eddie nomination.

In 1981 he won an Eddie for crafting Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, a TV special starring the singer which also netted Ludwig an Emmy nomination. A year later he was Eddie nominated again for the TV special thriller A Gun in the House but it was an invitation from director John Erman to edit his next feature which took Ludwig’s career to another level.

The first movie of the week they made together was Who Will Love My Children? based on the true story of an Iowa farm wife whose dying wish was to find loving families for her nine children. Starring Ann-Margret and Frederic Forrest, the feature netted Ludwig a second Eddie win. Next up was A Streetcar Named Desire (1984) starring Ann-Margret and Treat Williams which garnered both an Eddie and an Emmy award for Ludwig, one of the show’s 11 Emmy nominations.

He followed this with An Early Frost (1985) for NBC, recognized as the first drama tackling AIDS to be commissioned by a major network. It was nominated for 14 Emmy awards, winning three including for Ludwig who also took home an Eddie.

Ludwig was in high demand over the next decade, teaming with Erman again for When the Time Comes (1987), The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987) and The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank (1988), the latter two landing his eighth and ninth Eddie nominations.

He’s survived by his wife, Lois, whom Jerrold dated while they were still at high school.
ADRIAN PENNINGTON

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