Aram Avakian, director of End of the Road,
with James Earl Jones and Stacy Keach.

Biography and Career Timeline

Born New York City, at 129 East 76th Street, April 23, 1926; deceased January 17, 1987.

Horace Mann School, 1938-1942. (Varsity football; baseball captain; co-author in 1940, with fellow student Jack Kerouac of an interview with George Avakian for the weekly “Horace Mann Record;” it was Kerouac’s third published effort - his first having been a review of the first jazz album in the history of the record industry, produced by George Avakian).

Yale University, B. A., 1944 W.

Ensign, U. S. Navy, 1944-45 (Radar officer, USS Boxer; Pacific Theatre including China).

Sorbonne, Paris (1947-1952), diploma in French Literature, 1950.

Miscellaneous writings including for small jazz magazines.

Photographer (1950 +)

Film Editor (1955 +)

Film Director (1958 +)

Educator & Chairman, Film Studies, State University of New York (1962-87)


Film: Editor, Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Stompin' for Mili" (produced & directed by Gjon Mili) 1954

(1) Record producer, (2) annotator, (3) album cover photography: 

(1, 2) “Charlie Christian & Benny Goodman”

(1, 2, 3) “Juliette Greco”

(1, 2) “Patachou"

(1, 2) “George Brassens” (The annotation is a unique tour-de-force: The French lyrics of all the songs were translated by Aram into French which both scan and rhyme.)

(1, 2, 3)  Erroll Garner – “Paris Impressions” (Columbia)

(3) Miles Davis – “Birth of the Cool” (Capitol)

(3) Gil Evans & Cannonball Adderley - “Old Bottle, New Wine” (World Pacific)
...etc.; 1954-59.

TV: Editor, "See It Now" (CBS) l955-57

Film: Editor, “Satchmo the Great” (United Artists) (1956)

TV: Co-producer, “See It Now: The Puerto Ricans” (CBS) 1957

TV: Editor, "FDR" (ABC-TV series), 1957-58

TV: Editor, “Winston Churchill” (ABC-TV series), 1958-59

Film: Co-Director & Editor, “Jazz On a Summer’s Day,” 1958
(first film at a jazz festival)

Film: Editor, "Girl of the Night" (Warner Bros. – Lloyd Bridges; Anne Francis) 1959
(first use of freeze frame & jump cuts in American films – see Truffaut, below)

Film: Co-director, “Lad, A Dog” (Warner Bros.—Carroll O’Connor, Peter Graves) 1960

Note: Disgusted with the poor script he was given, Aram re-wrote each night before shooting the next day and was two days ahead of schedule at the end of a week, when Jack Warner personally fired him for insubordination and insisting on bringing in an unknown New York stage actor for the male lead. See opening paragraphs of Robert Meryman’s article about “End of the Road” in Life, October 1969. The actor, Carroll O’Connor, never failed to express his appreciation.

TV: Director & Editor, “One Night Stands” (ABC-TV) 1960

TV shorts: Director & Editor: Igor Stravinsky, Isaac Stern, Dave Brubeck, etc. (CBS) 1959-60

Film: Editor, “The Sins of Jesus” (Robert Frank) 1961

Film: Editor, “The Miracle Worker” (Arthur Penn; Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke) 1962

Film: Editor, “Lilith” (Robert Rossen; Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg, Gene Hackman, Peter Fonda) 1963

Film: Editor, “Andy” (Richard Sarafian; cast includes Aram Avakian) 1964

Film: Editor, “Mickey One” (Arthur Penn; Warren Beatty, Franchot Tone, Hurd Hatfield) 1965

(N.B. – Francois Truffaut visits Penn and Avakian on set in Chicago, talks about how Aram’s editing in “Girl of the Night” inspired freeze frame at end of “The 400 Blows”)

Film: Editor, “You’re a Big Boy Now” (Francis Ford Coppola; Julie Harris, Geraldine Page, Robert Kastner) 1966

Film: Director, “End of the Road” (Screenplay by Terry Southern & Aram Avakian; James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Dorothy Tristan, Harris Yulin) 1969

Film: Script writer (uncredited), “The Godfather” (Francis Ford Coppola, director) 1972

Unhappy with the results of the first filming and burdened with an unsatisfactory and overly long shooting script, in April 197l Producer Al Ruddy called in Aram Avakian to re-write the script. Paramount decided to fire Coppola and sent Ruddy to New York to offer the job as director to Avakian. Avakian, aware that Coppola had won an Academy Award a few days previously and was a client of Charles Bluhdorn, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, refused on the grounds that Coppola was his friend and had supported him before End of the Road. Coppola remained, and shooting resumed with Avakian’s script. Aram was never credited, and Robert Evans, in charge of production at Paramount, led a campaign after Aram’s death to discredit him, aided by Coppola’s refusal to comment on what had been documented by others connected with the film. 

Film: Director, “Cops & Robbers” (Joseph Bologna, Cliff Gorman) 1973

Film: Director, “Eleven Harrowhouse” (John Gielgud, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Candice Bergen, Charles Grodin) 1974

Film: Editor, “The Next Man” (Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi, Cornelia Sharpe) 1976

Film: Editor, “Honeysuckle Rose” (Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving) 1980