My Aunt, Dede Allen by
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My Aunt,  Dede Allen

I’ve always been very proud of my aunt Dede Allen.  Movie buffs may know her as a stellar film editor and a pioneer in what had been a male-dominated craft.

Dede worked her way up in the film business,  starting as a production runner at Columbia Pictures,  then editing commercial and industrial films and eventually becoming a feature film editor where her unusual talent was recognized by other editors and directors.   And Dede pioneered the very effective use of audio overlaps where dialog or voice-over narrative continue after a scene change,    and also introduced emotional jump cuts to add energy and realism to a film’s characters.

Classic films edited by my aunt include The Hustler,  Bonnie and Clyde,  Dog Day Afternoon and Reds, and directors she worked with include Arthur Penn,  Sidney Lumet,  Robert Wise,  Elia Kazan and George Roy Hill.   And among other honors,  Dede served on the Board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dede’s husband Stephen Fleischman was prominent in a related field as a writer and producer of documentary films,  and he and I shared a birthday!   (See Birthday Calendar)

And their son Tom Fleischman is an acclaimed sound editor.   Sadly Dede and Steve didn’t live to see my cousin Tommy win the Oscar for his work on the 2012 film Hugo.  (See The Irishman)

But over the years we were all there to see Dede honored on both coasts for her achievements and her own Oscar nominations.   At those dinners it was fun to rub elbows with the likes of Warren Beatty and other celebs Dede had worked with.

But more thrilling was hearing Dede speak passionately about her craft and her role in the making of some great films!

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Allen Dede, Film editors, Filmmaking


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    You certainly have a lot of the arts in your blood. Thanks for sharing Dede’s story.

  2. Film editors are the unsung heroes of motion pictures in that, though they do receive awards, very few lay people know their names. Very much behind the scenes, they rank right up there with the director, screenwriter, and even the stars in making or breaking a film. Kudos to Aunt Dede! And how lucky you were to have attended all those fabulous events, Dee!

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    I remember the name Dede Allen, Dana. She certainly did legendary work for great directors. Now I know she also had a wonderful niece!

  4. Wow. I’ve admired Dede Allen forever. What a great legacy she left behind. What was she like as a person and an aunt?

    • Edward, knowing your story I’m not surprised you know Dede’s work!

      Until the early 1990s Dede and Steve lived in New York as we did, and altho she was often away working on films for extended periods of time, she was a solid presence in our family when I was growing up, her intelligence, competence and moral fiber always at the fore. Thinking about her now I especially remember the sound of her voice and the twinkle in her eye!

      When Warner Brothers offered Dede the position of VP of Creative Development, she and Steve moved to LA where they lived for 20 years until her death. The last time we visited, Dede took me aside to ask about my sister who’d recently been given a devastating medical diagnosis. My parents were already gone by then and it was my aunt Dede who gave me solace.

  5. Suzy says:

    Nice story, Dana. Dede wasn’t famous in the sense of being recognized by the general public, but was certainly appreciated in the film industry. And how fun that you got to rub elbows with some of the celebs that she had worked with!

  6. Marian says:

    I’m so glad you had the time with Dede and all the good experiences, Dana. She sounds like a fascinating person indeed.

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