Producer Stanley Chase's long career in the entertainment industry has encompassed the worlds of motion pictures, television and theater. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Chase graduated from New York University after a stint in the Navy and continued his post graduate study at Columbia University before beginning his career in the entertainment field when he joined the CBS television network's story department in New York City as a script analyst.
While still in his mid-20s, Chase had his first major success as producer of the original off-Broadway production of "The Threepenny Opera," the record-breaking Kurt Weill-Bertold Brecht musical hit, with book and lyrics translated into English by Marc Blitzstein. Featuring tunes like "Mack the Knife" that have gone on to become classics of the 20th Century pop songbook, "The Threepenny Opera" became one of the American theater's longest-running and most popular productions, playing from 1954 to 1961. The musical also helped launch the careers of a host of soon-to-be well-known actors, including Carroll O'Connor, Edward Asner, Bea Arthur, Jerry Orbach, Leonard Nimoy, Charlotte Rae and John Astin, and re-ignited the career of Weill's widow, Lotte Lenya. Chase earned both a Tony Award and an Obie Award for his production of the musical.
Chase followed "Threepenny" with a string of successful theatrical shows on Broadway, including a period in which he had three plays running simultaneously. He produced high-quality fare including Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" in 1955 (starring Wendy Hiller, Franchot Tone and Cyril Cusack), Nobel Prize winner Graham Greene's "The Potting Shed" in 1956 (starring Dame Sybil Thordyke) and William Saroyan's "The Cave Dwellers" in 1957. In 1960 Chase produced the European tour of "Free and Easy," the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer musical (based on the film "St. Louis Woman") starring famed dancer Harold Nicholas and Robert Guillaume and featuring conductor/arranger/trumpeter Quincy Jones leading an all-star line-up of jazz musicians. Some of the legendary players in what Jones refers to as a "dream band" included Jimmy Cleveland, Clark Terry, Benny Bailey, Quentin Jackson, Billy Byers, Melba Liston, Jerome Richardson, Bud Johnson, Patti Brown and Phil Woods. During his stage period Chase met and married Dorothy Rice, actress and model for international fashion designers such as Christian Dior and popular magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Esquire.
Chase segued into television with a stint at United Artists in 1963 (where he co-created the series pilot "Inside Danny Baker" with Mel Brooks) before becoming Vice President of Network Television Program Development for ABC, supervising pilot productions and working with established veterans like "Lil' Abner" creator Al Capp and emerging talents such as Woody Allen. Chase was an instrumental player at ABC in the early 1960s, when the network came to the fore with groundbreaking series such as "The Fugitive" and "Peyton Place."
He moved on to become Head of Television Production and Executive Producer in New York, overseeing television production for Columbia Pictures' Screen Gems division. He later teamed with screenwriter Robert Kaufman to co-create and produce the series pilot "Happily Ever After," starring Shirley Jones and Ted Bessell, for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and NBC.
Chase relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 when he was recruited by Universal Studios to produce "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater," a one-hour anthology series on NBC. Chase produced the series' dramatic productions, working with talents like Cliff Robertson, Jack Klugman, Sal Mineo, Tige Andrews, Shirley Knight, Peggy Lipton . Chase would later serve as Universal's production executive on its world premiere movies, two-hour films for television (a concept the studio pioneered) as well as the producer-creator of the TV film "Jig Saw" starring a pre-"Hawaii 5-0" Jack Lord.
Chase next moved into yet another medium in 1968, producing the motion picture "The Hell With Her s" starring Rod Taylor, Claudia Cardinale and Harry Guardino. Chase's second outing as a film producer in 1970 was one of his most successful creatively: "Colossus: The Forbin Project," starring Eric Braeden and Susan Clark, directed by Joseph Sargent and written by James Bridges from D.F. Jones' novel, is a dark, foreboding sci-fi tale of computer intelligence run amok. The film won praise for its prescient take on artificial intelligence and was awarded the prestigious Hugo Award and the Gold Scroll Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Though modest in its first release, the film later became considered a classic of the genre and esteemed by filmmakers such as James Cameron.
Chase left the studio world and went on his own independent motion picture, television production, sales agency and distribution company-producing a string of television movies and motion pictures, including the 1975 CBS Movie of the Week "Fear On Trial," starring George C. Scott, William Devane and John Houseman-which earned Chase an Emmy nomination-and the 1980 ABC Movie of the Week "An American Christmas Carol" starring Henry Winkler as a modern-day Scrooge, which still airs regularly each holiday season.
Other films produced by Chase include "Welcome to Blood City" with Keir Dulea and Samantha Eggar (1976), "High Ballin'" starring Peter Fonda, Helen Shaver and Jerry Reed (1978), the TV movies "Kavik, the Wolf Dog" (1979) and "Grace Kelly" starring Cheryl Ladd and Lloyd Bridges (1983), "Fish Hawk" with Will Sampson (1982), "The Guardian" starring Martin Sheen and Louis Gossett, Jr. (1985), and-returning to his "Threepenny Opera" roots-"Mack the Knife," a motion picture version of Chase's first hit musical, starring Raul Julia, Richard Harris, Julia Migenes, Roger Daltry and Julie Walters (1990).
With Chase at the helm as president, Stanley Chase Productions remains an active player on the Hollywood scene, with a variety of motion picture and television projects in development. The company also serves as a sales agent for independent motion pictures.