|Died||November 4, 1958 (aged 57)|
|Resting place||Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City, California|
He began his career at 16 as an office boy to Richard A. Rowland who was president of Metro Studios and studied film editing. He began to do some editing in his spare time when films needed to be trimmed to meet censorship requirements.
He became friendly with actress Alla Nazimova who was under contract to Metro and told her of his desire to be a full editor. She invited him out to Hollywood in 1920 to become second assistant editor on her films. In 1923 when Nazimova's contract with Metro ended, he returned with her to New York and became her assistant stage manager on Broadway.
In 1924 Zimbalist returned to Los Angeles seeking film work. Metro pictures had merged with Sam Goldwyn's company to become MGM. Zimbalist went to work for them as an assistant editor and soon worked his way up to full editor. He edited the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz. Among the films he edited at MGM were Lon Chaney's While the City Sleeps (1928), Alias Jimmy Valentine, the studio's first sound film, and The Broadway Melody (1929), the first sound musical.
He produced films including Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), the story of the Doolittle Raiders, King Solomon's Mines (1950) and Quo Vadis (1951). The latter two both received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture. Quo Vadis was MGM's second-highest-grossing film at the time behind Gone With the Wind and MGM's most profitable film of the era with worldwide rentals of $23 million on a cost of $7 million.
He was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California. He received a posthumous Oscar for the film, and remains the only person to ever posthumously receive a Best Picture award. His Oscar was accepted by his wife Mary Zimbalist, who made a speech in honor of her late husband. Ben-Hur was even more profitable than Quo Vadis becoming MGM's second-highest-grossing film at the time (again, behind Gone With the Wind) making Zimbalist the producer of the second- and third-highest-grossing films at the studio.
He left an estate of $500,000.
He married Margaret C. Donovan in 1924. They divorced in 1950. Zimbalist then married Mary Taylor, a former fashion model and actress, in 1952.