In Memoriam: Nancy Mysel (1966-2012)

Nancy Mysel (1966-2012)

Nancy Mysel was born in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from Boston University’s School of Communications. She spent seven years as assistant picture and sound editor for National Geographic in Washington, DC, where she received an Emmy nomination for her work on the film “The Great Indian Railway.” In 1999, Nancy joined the UCLA Film & Television Archive and in 2000, she began her career as a film preservationist, working in collaboration with organizations such as the Film Foundation, Sundance, Film Noir Foundation, the National Film Preservation Foundation and Outfest on an eclectic range of projects.

Nancy was particularly interested in the challenges of the unique black and white cinematography of the noir period and supervised the restoration of re-discovered noir films “The Prowler” by Joseph Losey and “Cry Danger” by Robert Parrish. Other noir projects she worked on included the restoration and assembly of production outtakes from the 1955 classic “The Night of the Hunter” and Fritz Lang’s “Cloak and Dagger.” Outside of the noir genre, Nancy supervised the restoration of films by pioneering female director Dorothy Arzner, documentaries, groundbreaking LGBT works, short subjects and others.

“Nancy was wonderful, sweet and far too shy and humble – and most importantly, she was a tenacious guardian of cinema history, who set very high standards for all of us…” said Eddie Muller, President of the Film Noir Foundation

In May, 2012, after Nancy had been battling breast cancer for eight years and when aggressive medical treatment was no longer effective, her oncologist referred her to the Jewish Healing Center.

“As a child she was always comfortable on her own and in her own skin. As an adult, she was also a fiercely private and independent person and she chose to confront her battle with cancer primarily on her own. That’s not to say she preferred to be alone, but she would never want to inconvenience or impose. However, during her final weeks of life, she invited us in – my Dad, Mom and sister Cathy – into her apartment and into the final days of her life. This amazing gift was something that showed the depth of her strength and willingness to share with us.… She refused to let cancer prevent her from doing what she loved. Along with the support of family, it was this love that drove her to continue to fight her disease and gave her the strength and courage to face each day,” recalled her brother Jon.

“We can’t over emphasize how very important Rabbi Howard’s involvement has been,” her parents Allan and Carol wrote, “and how much it has meant to us at each and every turn of our journey—the Jewish Healing Center’s choice of a medical partner, shepherding us through the admittance process; continuously monitoring our satisfaction with medical services and immediately intervening with medical staff when dissatisfactions arose—even to the extent of going back to Nancy’s oncologist to seek a different recommendation of an anti-itch medication when others failed to provide relief. Beyond that, Rabbi Howard’s weekly visits as our “social worker/therapist/spiritual guide”, which extended to the inclusion of our two older children, Cathy and Jon, opened lines of communication for us and forced us to confront extremely difficult and sensitive issues in a positive way and to draw strength from each other.“

Cathy, Nan’s sister, said: “I know I am a changed person after the journey we went through together.… Rabbi Carla helped all of us to see that the process of Nancy letting go after an incredibly brave fight was more than just a tragic loss of a loved one; it was a journey that we could each be a part of and, if we were willing, take something good from. I took her guidance to heart and it has stayed with me even as I have returned to my routine back in New Jersey. The memories I have of us sitting around Nancy’s living room talking, crying and yes, even laughing will be with me forever. With Rabbi Carla’s love and support Nancy found the strength inside to accept and be at peace with the fact that her life’s journey was coming to an end. Seeing it with my own eyes made her passing more bearable. These are but some of the gifts she and Nancy have given me.…”

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