Doris Finlay

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Doris Finlay (b. Frankfurt am Main, 16/01/1923 - d. Palm Beach, United States, 13/01/2020) was a film editor.


Originally Anni Marie-Louise Vita-Doris Zeltmann, Doris Finlay’s parents were Henri Zeltmann and Irmgard Lüben. Though born in Paris, her father was a German national who at one stage was the honorary Austro-Hungarian consul in Saigon, was a businessman in The Netherlands, saw service in German East Africa during World War I and ran an opticians and photographers business in Nairobi before settling in South Africa. By 1947 Doris was employed by Bavaria Films in Munich, initially as a location scout and subsequently as a cutter. In the early 1950s she was working at Carlton-Film, editing three films for Arthur Maria Rabenalt and one for Willi Forst. She also worked uncredited on the Gregory Peck film Night People (Nunnally Johnson/1954) as an assistant cutter.

There are South African immigration papers for H. Zeltmann and family dated 1955 and in 1956 she married James Finlay. Though she may have joined African Film Productions before that date, on all her South African films she is credited as Doris Finlay. She worked with Gordon Vorster, Emil Nofal, Basil Mailer and especially Raymond Hancock. According to fellow editor Peter Grossett, she brought many new ideas to the studio, notably concerning the integration of music into the overall production. She worked mostly on documentaries, but also functioned as production manager on the feature Piet My Niggie (Jan Perold/1964) and was associate producer for Africa Shakes (Basil Mailer/1965).

She and James Finlay were divorced in 1957 and she subsequently married Norbert Hebich, who was the German Consul General. They were posted to Liberia, Tanzania and Canada and while, after their divorce, he returned to Germany, she stayed on in Toronto. She eventually settled in Florida and died there just a few days short of her 97th birthday.

South African credits as editor

1956 - Natal (documentary) (Director: Gordon Vorster), 1956 - South African Mosaic / Suid-Afrikaanse Mosaïek (documentary) (Director: Basil Mailer), 1956 - Fishermen of Skeleton Coast / Die Vissers van die Dode Kus (documentary) (Director: Emil Nofal), 1957 - Anette: a Story of Achievement / Anette: ‘n Verhaal van Prestasie (documentary) (Director: Gordon Vorster), 1958 - They Came to Stay / Eie Bodem (documentary) (Director: Basil Mailer), 1960 – Impressions of Another Land (documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1960 – The Face of South Africa / Ewebeeld van Suid-Afrika (documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1960 - Zambezi (documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1961 – South West Africa: the Timeless Land / Suidwes-Afrika: die Tydlose Land (Editor) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1961 - Workshop of a Continent (documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1962 – Century of Achievement (With Godfrey Albertyn)(documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1963 – Southern Symphony (documentary) (Director: Raymond Hancock), 1965 – Africa Shakes (feature) (Director: Basil Mailer).


Sunday Times (various issues)

Correspondence with Peter Grossett

Correspondence with Sybille von Mellenthin

Card catalogues of the Western Cape Provincial Library Service

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities F

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page