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(written from a Production point of view)
Harold William "Bill" Varney (22 January 1934 – 2 April 2011; age 77) was a film and television sound mixer who served as Supervising Re-recording Mixer on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He began his career in Hollywood working on radio and television programs in the 1950s. His first feature film credit was sound re-recordist on Billy Wilder's Avanti! (1972), which featured Clive Revill in the cast.
Varney was sound mixer on many of the most popular films of the 1970s and 1980s. Among these films were Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, featuring John Rhys-Davies), both of which earned Varney an Academy Award for Best Sound. He also earned Academy Award nominations for his work on David Lynch's Dune (1984, featuring Brad Dourif, Virginia Madsen, Dean Stockwell, and Patrick Stewart) and Back to the Future (1985, starring Christopher Lloyd).
He worked on four films for filmmaker John Carpenter: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Escape from New York (1981, featuring Adrienne Barbeau, co-composed by Alan Howarth, and edited by Todd Ramsay), The Thing (1982, featuring David Clennon and Joel Polis and also edited by Todd Ramsay), and Starman (1984). In addition to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future, Varney mixed the sound on several other genre films produced by Steven Spielberg through Amblin Entertainment. Most notable among these are Poltergeist (1982, composed by Jerry Goldsmith and photographed by Matthew F. Leonetti), Gremlins (1984, featuring Zach Galligan, Keye Luke, Dick Miller, and also scored by Goldsmith), and The Goonies (1985).
Varney's many other film credits include Grease (1978), National Lampoon's Animal House (1978, featuring Bruce McGill and photographed by Charles Correll), Hair (1979, starring John Savage), The Black Stallion (1979, starring Teri Garr), Ordinary People (1980, featuring James B. Sikking), The Man with Two Brains (1983, featuring Jeffrey Combs, James Cromwell, and David Warner), The Dead Zone (1983, featuring Anthony Zerbe), Harry and the Hendersons (1987, starring Kevin Peter Hall), and DragonHeart (1996, featuring Dina Meyer and Brian Thompson). He was also a sound mixer on the groundbreaking 1977 TV mini-series Roots (featuring LeVar Burton, Thalmus Rasulala, Madge Sinclair, and Ben Vereen), for which he shared an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Mixing.
Varney was a past president of the Cinema Audio Society and was the recipient of that organization's Career Achievement Award in 1990. He died of congestive heart failure in Fairhope, Alabama on 2 April 2011. He was 77 years old.