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1 item from 2008

Actor-director Mel Ferrer dies at 90

3 June 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Mel Ferrer, whose career as a performer, director, producer and writer spanned six decades, has died at age 90.

Ferrer died Monday at his ranch near Santa Barbara, family spokesman Mike Mena said.

"It's a sad occasion, but he did live a long and productive life," Mena said Tuesday.

He appeared in more than 100 films and made-for-television movies, directed nine films and produced nine more.

Ferrer's most impressive film role came in 1953 in Lili. He played a disabled carnival puppeteer with whom a French orphan (played by Leslie Caron) falls in love.

On the big screen, Ferrer was most recognizable for his performance as Prince Andrei in War and Peace in 1956 with Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. He was paid the then princely sum of $100,000. He appeared in The Sun Also Rises alongside Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn.

Ferrer was often cast in big pictures during the late '50s and early '60s: The World, the Flesh and the Devil with Harry Belafonte and Inger Stevens; Sex and the Single Girl with Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis; Paris Does Strange Things with Ingrid Bergman; and The Longest Day with an all-star male cast.

Despite his aristocratic looks and versatility, Ferrer never hit stardom as a leading man. Later in his career, he starred primarily in TV movies and, living in Europe since 1954, he performed in a number of obscure European productions as well as intermittent U.S. exploitation fodder like Eaten Alive (1977).

Active in all forms of performance, Ferrer (with Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Joseph Cotton), founded the La Jolla Playhouse in 1947.

In film, Ferrer produced Wait Until Dark, with Hepburn, his then-wife, as the female lead. Previously, he directed Hepburn, whom he met while they starred together in Ondine on Broadway, in Green Mansions. Among his other noteworthy film accomplishments, Ferrer directed Claudette Colbert in the film The Secret Fury in 1950 and produced El Greco in 1966. »

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