Q1 2024

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MAURICE SCHELL NOVEMBER 14, 1937 — NOVEMBER 21, 2023 M y h u s b a n d , M a u r i c e S c h e l l , d i e d peacefully on the evening of Nov. 21. Maurice was born in Paris, France, on November 14th, 1937. His mother had emigrated from Poland and his father from Germany, both fleeing the rise in antisem- itism in their native countries. The first four years of his life are well-documented in idyllic family photographs taken by Julius, his photographer uncle. They show happy young parents doting on their only child. The German occupation of Paris brought all that to an end. Joseph Schell ignored the ruling to register the family as Jewish and wear the yellow star. While hundreds of Parisian children in his Marais neighborhood of Paris were being deported to their deaths, Maurice was spirited off to the countryside on the back of a motorcycle late one night by Julius, who had connections to the French Resistance. He remembered standing at the foot of his mother's bed and waving goodbye. She was at that point dying of cancer. He remained in the tiny town of Sancheville under the care of an elderly woman, Madame Villetard, until the end of the war four years later. German troops were ever present due to a prisoner of war camp nearby. He vividly recalled the sounds of marching boots, of hiding under the bed as bombs fell, of witnessing the towns- people hiding an Allied paratrooper and burying his parachute late one night. The children knew not to utter a word. His father survived the war by conceal- ing his Jewish identity and working as a bookkeeper for a German munitions com- pany. Ocers as high up as Rommel would pass through. He would have to endure so- cializing with them as they ridiculed Jews. Although he was able to help the Resistance by procuring forged papers, towards the end of the war he was apprehended while en route to Paris to deposit company funds. As he was in possession of a car, a pistol, and a satchel of money, his protestations of actually being Jewish were not believed and he spent six months in jail until finally being cleared. He returned with Maurice to Paris where he later remarried and emigrated to New York in 1949. Life in north Manhattan's multi-ethnic neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood was a struggle. His father was able to purchase a modest luncheonette where the family worked long hours. Maurice worked nearly full time from a young age to help out. His earnings went to the purchase of the first family car, although he wasn't permitted to drive it. His father's wartime experiences had left him emotionally shut down, and the parental aection that was showered upon him in his first four years was never to be repeated. Although he neglected his schoolwork , he excelled in sports and drawing, but when he was oered admission to a specialized arts high school, his father dismissed the idea. And later, when a Dodgers scout who spotted Maurice oered him a minor league tryout, his father's reaction was "You're going to play ball for a living?" At the age of 20, when his father suf- fered a heart attack, Maurice took over running the luncheonette with his step- mother. Later, he worked for the Miles Shoe Company, traveling all over the country tak- ing inventory in local stores. He witnessed separate water fountains in the South and recounted a store manager boasting of the previous night's revels harassing Blacks. It left a strong impression. Around the same time, he experienced a kind of cultural awakening. He spoke of going to see the Fellini film "La Strada" and staying to see it a second time. He had never seen a film like it, and it aected him deeply. Another pivotal experience was a late-night conversation with friends concerning the nature of work and the need to find some- thing you loved doing. The next day, he resigned from Miles Shoes. "Can't you give us a few weeks' notice?" they asked. "No, because then I may never leave." He started looking for jobs in film and was offered a day's pay sweeping floors and moving equipment for the Maysles brothers, the famous documentarians. They kept him on, and an early mentor there was editor Charlotte Zwerin. Soon after, he assisted picture editor Jerry Greenberg on "The French Con- nection." He moved on to assisting for a number of years in all areas of sound editing — music, eects, ADR, dialogue. Eddie Beyer was another mentor. Once Maurice started editing, he quickly moved up to supervising sound jobs. Working with Bob Fosse on "All That Jazz" in 1979 was an early inspirational experience. A year later, Maurice was working as a sound editor on "Reds." I had been working in TV commercials and was trying to break into features. "Reds" had a mammoth crew, and I heard they were hiring from outside the feature community. I arranged to get an interview in the Sound Department. When I entered the elevator at Trans Audio and asked someone where the sound editing rooms were located, Maurice turned to look at me and said to a companion, with a bit of attitude, "I know where she's going." That felt rude. Who's the wise guy?, I thought. He was also con- spicuously strolling back and forth as I was being interviewed. Then I joined the crew as a sound ap- prentice and started getting to know him. I had been a film buff since childhood and 55 W I N T E R Q 4 I S S U E I N M E M O R I A M

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