Cotton Warburton

Irvine "Cotton" Eugene Warburton (October 8, 1911 June 21, 1982) was an American college football quarterback (1933) who became a film and television editor with sixty feature film credits.[1][2] He worked for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and for the Walt Disney Studios, and is probably best known for his editing of Mary Poppins (1964).[3]

Cotton Warburton
Irvine Eugene Warburton

(1911-10-08)October 8, 1911
DiedJune 21, 1982(1982-06-21) (aged 70)
Occupationfilm editor


Warburton was born in 1911, in San Diego, California, to Margaret Warburton. His siblings were Leland S., Los Angeles City Council member in 1945–53; Milton, Lawrence and David.[4]

Career in sports

Warburton attended San Diego High School, and won the California high school 440-yard dash in 1930.[5] He brought his speed to the USC Trojans football team, and was chosen as an All-American quarterback in 1933. Warburton was the quarterback during a winning streak that lasted for 27 games, which remained unsurpassed at USC until 1980.[1] Cotton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.[6] Warburton's teammate Aaron Rosenberg was also elected to the Hall of Fame, and also had a successful career in the film industry as a director and producer.

Hollywood career

Following his graduation from the University of Southern California in 1934, Warburton declined an offer to become a professional football player with the Chicago Bears. He became an assistant film editor at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios, where he remained for 19 years.[1] As was common in the studio era, his first editing credit came after about eight years with the studio,[7] and was for the Laurel and Hardy film Air Raid Wardens (1943). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing for Crazylegs (1953), a film about Elroy Hirsch's football career; Robert Niemi has suggested that the nomination acknowledged Warburton's success in "weaving documentary footage of Hirsch on the playing field into the film proper."[8] Shortly after this film, Warburton left MGM.

By 1956 Warburton was an editor for the Walt Disney Studios, where he remained for the rest of his career. His first Disney film credit was Westward Ho, the Wagons! (1956). About 1960, he began a fruitful collaboration on feature films with Disney director Robert Stevenson. Their first film was The Absent-Minded Professor (1961). Warburton won an Academy Award and the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for the "spectacularly successful" Mary Poppins (1964), which also earned Stevenson an Oscar nomination as best director.[9] Critic Drew Casper particularly notes Warburton's editing of the film's "chimney pot" musical sequence (see clip to the right).[10] In total, Stevenson and Warburton collaborated on nine films in the 1960s and 1970s; their last film together was Herbie Rides Again (1974). Warburton retired from editing after The Cat from Outer Space (1978), a Disney film directed by Norman Tokar.[3]

Warburton was a member of the American Cinema Editors.[11]

Cotton Warburton's grand-nephew, Bartt Warburton, likewise a college athlete who later entered the entertainment profession, was a founding member of L.A. Guns offshoot band "Black Cherry." Bartt Warburton performs worldwide as "Ukulele Bartt."

See also


  1. "Cotton Warburton of USC is dead at 70". The Los Angeles Times. June 22, 1982. p. D1. Paid online access.
  2. "Irvine Warburton, Film Editor". The New York Times. June 22, 1982. Associated Press obituary from June 21, 1982, and published by the New York Times on June 22.
  3. Cotton Warburton on IMDb
  4. "Obituaries". The Los Angeles Times. May 6, 1961. p. C-17. Paid online access.
  5. "Irvine "Cotton" Warburton". San Diego Hall of Champions. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  6. Cotton Warburton at the College Football Hall of Fame
  7. Zone, Ray (May–June 2006). "Recalling the Esteemed O'Steen". Editors' Guild Magazine. 23 (3). Archived from the original on May 20, 2008. Retrieved Feb 10, 2008.
  8. Niemi, Robert (2006). History in the Media: film and Television. ABC-CLIO. p. 138. ISBN 9781576079522.
  9. Cook, David A. (2000). Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979. Simon and Schuster. p. 320. ISBN 9780684804637. The spectacular success of Mary Poppins, which was the highest grossing film of 1964 (significantly outperforming its closest rivals My Fair Lady (George Cukor) and Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton)), pushed company profits to record highs of $11 million in 1965 and $12 million in 1966.
  10. Casper, Drew (2011). Hollywood Film 1963-1976: Years of Revolution and Reaction. John Wiley and Sons. p. 1976. ISBN 9781405188272. Disney was the leader, his musical fantasies mixing animation and truly marvelous f/x with real-life action for children and the child in the adult. Mary Poppins (1964) was his plum. ... the story was elemental, even trite. But utmost sophistication (the chimney pot sequence crisply cut by Oscared "Cotton" Warburton) and high-level invention (a tea party on the ceiling, a staircase of black smoke to the city's top) characterized its handling.
  11. Members are often credited with the designation A.C.E.; for Warburton, see Troyan, Michael (2005). A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson. University Press of Kentucky. p. 403. ISBN 9780813191508.

Further reading

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