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Overview for Jack Haley Jr.
Jack Haley Jr.

Jack Haley Jr.


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Also Known As: John Joseph Haley Jr. Died: April 21, 2001
Born: October 25, 1933 Cause of Death: respiratory failure
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: Producer ... executive director producer screenwriter


A producer, director and writer, most frequently of documentaries and compilation films, Jack Haley Jr is most renowned for his work on "That's Entertainment!," the 1974 film which celebrated MGM's musical legacy as the studio's backlot was being torn down to build condos. He is also recalled for his work alongside David L Wolper, with whom he was partnered from 1959 into the 1960s. Haley was the son of Jack Haley, best known as The Tin Man in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" and from 1974-79 was married to Liza Minnelli, whose mother, Judy Garland, was Dorothy in the same film.

Haley, who grew up as a Hollywood prince--his boyhood chums included the sons of Bing Crosby and Edward G Robinson, attended Loyola University in the Westchester section of Los Angeles, then broke into the film business. By 1959, at age 25, he was one of the founding partners in David Wolper Productions. While with Wolper, Haley produced numerous documentary specials and series for networks and syndication. He was producer of "The Race for Space" (1959) and the same year produced and directed "Man in Space." His first association with film history came with "Hollywood: The Golden Years" (1960-61), and "Hollywood: The Fabulous Era" (1962), both of which he produced. Later came "Hollywood and the Stars" (1965) and "The Legend of Marilyn Monroe" (1966).

Haley then began to branch out. He co-wrote and produced "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House" (1966), a humor special with Jack Paar that triggered a sequel in 1967. That same year, Haley was executive producer and director of Nancy Sinatra's "Movin' With Nancy" TV special, for which he won a directing Emmy. In 1968 and 1969, he produced "The Ice Capades" for TV, and produced, co-directed, and co-wrote a 1969 TV special for Frank Sinatra Jr. In 1974, with "That's Entertainment!" pending, he produced the Academy Awards telecast, and followed that with two specials for Mac Davis. Haley produced both "LIFE Goes to the Movies" (1976) and "LIFE Goes to War" (1977). He had his own series on ABC from 1982-86, "Ripley's Believe It or Not!," hosted by Jack Palance, and also produced the Academy Award telecast again in 1984.

Haley first directed for the big screen in 1970 with "Norwood," a Glen Campbell "road" picture. The next year, Haley tackled the frothy "The Love Machine," based upon Jacqueline Susann's novel about the TV industry. Haley was then handed the "That's Entertainment!" assignment--a compilation film honoring the MGM musicals. It was a risky venture for UA, which then controlled MGM as no one was sure whether or not anyone wanted to see old movie clips. Haley enlisted Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Liza Minnelli, James Stewart and Peter Lawford to do intros and narration and he directed, produced and wrote the effort. The result was a smash, and resulted in two sequels. In 1985, Haley tried to recapture the same spirit with "That's Dancing!," another compilation film not limited to one studio's output. The effort was not as well received, but, by then, there was a cottage industry in Hollywood clip productions. Haley also produced "50 Years of MGM" as a TV special in 1975 before serving as president of the TV arm of 20th Century Fox from 1975-76, when he returned to independent production. Haley was felled by a bout with cancer of the ear, but he recovered fully in the early 90s. He later suffered from liver disease (reportedly refusing an organ transplant) and died from respiratory failure in April 2001.

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