OSS officer in charge of compilation & editing The Nazi Plan, also writer of English inter-titles.
UFA film editor
UFA film editor
Assistant Film Editor
German film director
Hitler’s still photographer
Joseph Zigman, who served as a film editor before the start of World War II, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the film unit of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). The Field Photographic Branch, as it was officially called, was under the command of Hollywood director John Ford and was based in Washington DC, where the outfit made secret training films for OSS operatives. There he met two other sons of Hollywood – Budd and Stuart Schulberg – and the three formed a life-long friendship.
In September of 1945, as Budd and Stuart were still combing the Nazi territories for film evidence that could be used at the Nuremberg trial, Joe Zigman was sent to Nuremberg to compile and edit the footage that had already been found. He and his fellow editors Bob Parrish, Bob Webb and Patty O’Heir, cut together two historic films for the U.S. prosecution team to present to the Tribunal – The Nazi Plan (consisting entirely of German footage) and Nazi Concentration Camps (consisting primarily of footage shot by the Allied liberators). The photos and films presented in the courtroom played a vital role in convicting the Nazis on trial.
In the spring of 1947, Stuart Schulberg and Joseph Zigman teamed up again, this time to make the official film about the trial itself, Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today. After Nuremberg was completed in 1948, Zigman stayed on in Berlin to edit de-Nazification and re-education films aimed at German audiences under the aegis of U.S. Military Government’s Documentary Film Unit, which was headed by Stuart Schulberg. When Schulberg was recruited to Paris to run the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section, Zigman took over his production supervision duties at OMGUS in Berlin. In 1950, Zigman left Military Government and moved to Munich to serve as production manager, film editor and director for producer Eric Pommer on the early Flash Gordon TV serial, some episodes of which were filmed in Germany.
In 1954, Joe Zigman brought his family back to the United States in order to work on The American Week with journalist Eric Sevareid, ultimately becoming a widely respected “triple threat” as a producer, director and editor of network news and public affairs. His numerous CBS documentaries and special reports included Roger Mudd’s Ted Kennedy interview and countless news stories for famed anchorman Chet Huntley of NBC News.
For a brief period in the late 1950’s, he was also reunited with his old OSS mates Budd and Stuart Schulberg, who hired him to edit their Warner Brothers movie Wind Across the Everglades. This was one of the first films to tackle environmental issues, the killing of endangered species -- the beautiful plume birds that were slaughtered to adorn women’s hats. The Audubon Society was instrumental in advocating for laws to protect these birds.
Joe Zigman worked on another film with an environmental theme, a documentary about the life of writer & naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch, whose work on ecological issues in the southwest include The Voice of the Desert. Zigman also went to Sierra Leone and Tanganyika (now Tanzania) to work on educational issues affecting the population there.
This precipitated his move to Hollywood in 1959, but a call from Chet Huntley in 1962 encouraged him to return to New York. After working on several documentary specials with Huntley, the CBS Evening News recruited him and he spent the remainder of his working career with Walter Cronkite as part of Cronkite’s famed CBS News team.
In 1981, Joseph Zigman retired to Oxnard, California, where he spent the last 15 years of his life. He died on December 1996 at the age of 80. As of 2011, he is survived by his wife Regina (Jeanie), daughter Judy Zigman Pantano of Brooklyn, son Louis Zigman of Los Angeles, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Dec. 17, 1996
By VARIETY STAFF
Joseph Zigman, 80, longtime staff director and producer for CBS in New York, who, early on in his career helped assemble the secret Nazi film footage that was later used at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, died Dec. 1 in Oxnard following a lengthy battle with prostrate cancer.
Zigman, who served as a film editor before the start of World War II, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and later joined the OSS Film Unit, which was led by Budd Schulberg.
In 1945 Zigman and others found Nazi archival footage that was used by the Four Powers prosecution during the Nuremberg Trials.
Zigman then settled in Hollywood and served as an editor on several features before moving to New York, where he became a producer and director on numerous CBS documentaries and special reports including Roger Mudd's Ted Kennedy interview.
Zigman worked for many years with Eric Sevareid and Chet Huntley and on the "CBS Evening News" with Walter Cronkite.
Zigman is survived by his wife, Jeanne, a son and daughter, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.