In Memoriam – Patrick Kennedy, ACE

May 20, 2023

Patrick Kennedy, ACE – whose work includes 1980 hit comedy Airplane! – passed away on Jan. 11 at his home in Porter Ranch, Calif., with his wife of 67 years, Gloria, at his side. He was 88.

Born in Beaumont, Calif., Kennedy loved movies, particularly classic films, and got into the business delivering cans of film at the studios. Eventually he got an assisting job and worked up to editor. He loved working on the Moviola – with the film in his hands – and his daughter says that when the digital revolution arrived, he said, “When I can’t feel the film between my fingers, I’m out.” Despite this, he successfully
made the transition to digital editing.

During his career, he worked with directors includingJeremy Paul Kagan, earning credits including The Big Fix and Heroes; and Nick Castle on movies including Major Payne and The Boy Who Could Fly. Says Castle, “We worked together six more times over the next 20 years. Patrick was a great collaborator, a talented editor and he always had the best answer for the most important question an editing team needs to know, ‘Where are we going for lunch?’ I will miss him dearly.”

Airplane!, the 1980 comedy that parodied the disaster genre, was truly a big break for Kennedy. Like directors Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, he knew the best way to play the movie was straight. No pausing for the audience to laugh. Normally in a comedy you would leave space for the laugh. He cut the film as though it were a straight drama and that style made the comedy work. Absurdity was treated as
reality. It was a hit, earning $171 million worldwide.

The film made Kennedy a very bankable film editor. He moved right over to Coast to Coast and then on to such films as Mr. Mom and Major Payne. His credits include TV movies such as Don’t Go To Sleep, Amazons and J. Edgar Hoover; series including Police Story, Matt Houston and Serpico; and miniseries Space. Patrick received both Emmy and Eddie nominations for The Bob Hope Christmas Special and Barbarians at the Gate.

He also shared his love of film with his daughter, Stephanie, who went on to become a costume supervisor on Seinfeld and is now moving into producing.  In his passing Kennedy leaves us with many films that will continue to entertain viewers. He was dedicated to his craft and his love for film. We all miss him.

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