Ross Hunter


Producer
Ross Hunter

About

Also Known As
Martin Fuss
Birth Place
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Born
May 06, 1920
Died
March 10, 1996
Cause of Death
Lymphoma

Biography

This film producer, a former school teacher and actor, became widely known in the 1950s and '60s for a series of lush, glossy romances, many directed by Douglas Sirk and starring such icons as Lana Turner, Rock Hudson and Susan Hayward. His career was much more versatile than posterity will have it, though. After serving in the Army and teaching school, Hunter spent the mid-'40s as a con...

Biography

This film producer, a former school teacher and actor, became widely known in the 1950s and '60s for a series of lush, glossy romances, many directed by Douglas Sirk and starring such icons as Lana Turner, Rock Hudson and Susan Hayward. His career was much more versatile than posterity will have it, though. After serving in the Army and teaching school, Hunter spent the mid-'40s as a contract actor at Columbia, appearing in such films as "Louisiana Hayride" (1944), "A Guy, a Gal and a Pal" (1945) and "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" (1946). Neither Hunter nor Columbia's Harry Cohn were happy, and his association ended.

Hunter began teaching acting and directed a stage production or two before returning to films as a producer with Universal. His first project was a Barbara Stanwyck melodrama, "All I Desire" (1953), the first of ten films with director Douglas Sirk. Hunter stayed with Universal through 1970, forming his own production unit, Ross Hunter Productions, in 1961.

Hunter is best-known for his series of high-end romances, beautifully costumed first by Bill Thomas and later by Jean Louis. "The Magnificent Obsession" (1954) and "All That Heaven Allows" (1956) showcased the unlikely love duo of Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman; "Back Street" (1961) had Susan Hayward suffering in flowing chiffon; and an elegantly middle-aged Lana Turner emoted her way through "Imitation of Life" (1959), "Portrait in Black" (1960) and the umpteenth remake of "Madame X" (1966).

Hunter also excelled in light comedy, notably the first Rock Hudson/Doris Day co-starrer, "Pillow Talk" (1959), the Debbie Reynolds vehicles "Tammy and the Bachelor" (1957) and "This Happy Feeling" (1958), and a number of light Sandra Dee comedies. Among his later films was the delightfully campy "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967), which starred Julie Andrews and also provided rare film showcases for Carol Channing and Beatrice Lillie. Hunter also produced Westerns ("Tumbleweed," 1953; "The Spoilers," 1955), war films ("Battle Hymn," 1956) and musicals ("Flower Drum Song," 1961; the dreadful "Lost Horizon," 1973, made, ironically, for Columbia). Among his myriad other notable films were the teen drama "The Restless Years" (1958), the dreadful thriller "Midnight Lace" (1960), the thoughtful drama "The Chalk Garden" (1964) and the blockbuster hit "Airport" (1970), which earned a Best Picture Oscar nod.

In 1975, Hunter turned to television, producing five TV-movies and miniseries from 1975- 79, all for NBC. The most successful of these were "Arthur Hailey's 'The Moneychangers'" (1976) and the old-age drama "A Family Upside Down" (1978), which won Fred Astaire an Emmy and co- star Helen Hayes a nomination.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

When I Grow Up (1951)
Dialogue Director
The Sword of Monte Cristo (1951)
Dialogue Director
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
Dialogue Director
Woman on the Run (1950)
Dialogue Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Groom Wore Spurs (1951)
Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (1946)
Ted Sloan
The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946)
Robin Hood man
Out of the Depths (1945)
Clayton Shepherd
Hit the Hay (1945)
Ted Barton
A Guy, a Gal, and a Pal (1945)
Jimmy Jones
Ever Since Venus (1944)
Bradley Miller
Louisiana Hayride (1944)
Gordon Pearson
She's a Sweetheart (1944)
Paul

Producer (Feature Film)

Suddenly, Love (1978)
Producer
A Family Upside Down (1978)
Producer
The Lives of Jenny Dolan (1975)
Executive Producer
Lost Horizon (1972)
Producer
Airport (1970)
Producer
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Producer
Rosie (1967)
Executive Producer
Madame X (1966)
Producer
The Pad (And How To Use It) (1966)
Producer
The Art of Love (1965)
Producer
I'd Rather Be Rich (1964)
Producer
The Chalk Garden (1964)
Producer
Tammy and the Doctor (1963)
Producer
If a Man Answers (1962)
Producer
Flower Drum Song (1961)
Producer
Tammy Tell Me True (1961)
Producer
Back Street (1961)
Producer
Midnight Lace (1960)
Producer
Portrait in Black (1960)
Producer
Imitation of Life (1959)
Producer
Pillow Talk (1959)
Producer
A Stranger in My Arms (1959)
Producer
The Restless Years (1958)
Producer
This Happy Feeling (1958)
Producer
Battle Hymn (1957)
Producer
Interlude (1957)
Producer
My Man Godfrey (1957)
Producer
Tammy and the Bachelor (1957)
Producer
There's Always Tomorrow (1956)
Producer
All That Heaven Allows (1956)
Producer
The Spoilers (1956)
Producer
Captain Lightfoot (1955)
Producer
One Desire (1955)
Producer
The Yellow Mountain (1954)
Producer
Taza, Son of Cochise (1954)
Producer
Magnificent Obsession (1954)
Producer
Naked Alibi (1954)
Producer
Tumbleweed (1953)
Producer
Take Me to Town (1953)
Producer
All I Desire (1953)
Producer
Steel Town (1952)
Associate Producer
The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)
Associate Producer
Scarlet Angel (1952)
Associate Producer
Son of Ali Baba (1952)
Associate Producer
The Battle at Apache Pass (1952)
Associate Producer
Flame of Araby (1952)
Associate Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

The Chalk Garden (1964)
Company
The Thrill of It All (1963)
Company
Flower Drum Song (1961)
Company

Cast (Special)

Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey (1991)
Mitzi and a Hundred Guys (1975)

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

The Best Place to Be (1979)
Producer
Moneychangers (1976)
Producer

Life Events

1942

Taught school in Cleveland and Los Angeles

1944

Signed to long-term contract with Columbia Pictures as performer

1946

Suspended by Columbia head Harry Cohn (final film as actor, "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi", for Monogram)

1947

Began working as associate producer on films at Universal

1953

First film as producer, "All I Desire", directed by Douglas Sirk for Universal

1961

Formed Ross Hunter Productions

1970

Produced his biggest hit film, "Airport"

1971

Joined Columbia Pictures; produced final film, "Lost Horizon"

1974

Joined Paramount

1975

Produced first TV-movie, "The Lives of Jenny Dolan" (NBC)

1979

Produced final TV-movie, "The Best Place to Be" (NBC)

Photo Collections

Back Street (1961) - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Back Street (1961) - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Videos

Movie Clip

Midnight Lace (1960) - Sexually Off The Track Having been harassed in the fog and now on the phone, American Kit (Doris Day) and English financier husband Tony (Rex Harrison) visit Scotland Yard where inspector Byrnes (John Williams) comments on local miscreants, in MIdnight Lace, 1960.
Flower Drum Song (1961) - Chop Suey Another Rodgers & Hammerstein original which has long split opinion (Is it cultural stereotyping or knowing commentary?), Juanita Hall reprising her stage role as Madame Liang of San Francisco, receiving a citizenship award then supported by Jim Shigeta (who, it is sometimes forgotten, started out as a singer), Jack Soo, Benson Fong et al, in Flower Drum Song, 1961.
Flower Drum Song (1961) - Such Fun Going Steady James Shigeta (as Wang Ta) and Nancy Kwan (as showgirl Linda) discuss their immediate future in a San Francisco Chinatown cafe in director Henry Koster's Flower Drum Song, 1961, from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.
Pillow Talk (1959) - Title Song Cute graphics, the leading lady with the title tune by Buddy Pepper and Inez James, to Doris Day in the blue negligee and leading man Rock Hudson introducing the premise and the graphic gimmick, off to a rollicking start in their first picture together, in Pillow Talk, 1959.
All That Heaven Allows (1955) - So Few Widows Wear It Escorted by stately Harvey (Conrad Nagel), Connecticut widow Cary (Jane Wyman) turns heads at the country club, cruelly greeted by Mona (Jacqueline de Wit), defended by Sara (Agnes Moorehead) then jumped by Howard (Donald Curtis), social tumult in Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows, 1955.
All That Heaven Allows (1955) - This May Be My Last Year Using the Universal backlot as suburban Connecticut, Agnes Moorehead as Sara conducts exposition regarding Jane Wyman (as "Cary,") at first hardly noticing the hunky gardener Ron (Rock Hudson), opening Douglas Sirk's celebrated All That Heaven Allows, 1955, produced by Ross Hunter.
Pillow Talk (1959) - Has He Made Immoral Overtures? Joining infuriated party-line customer Jan (Doris Day), we meet her ever hung-over maid Alma (Thelma Ritter) then the phone company man (Hayden Rorke), following just the first encounter with the leading man (Rock Hudson) she hasn't yet met, in Pillow Talk, 1959.
Imitation Of Life (1959) - A Maid To Live In After wide shots establishing the real Coney Island, director Douglas Sirk switches to location shooting in Long Beach, CA, introducing principals Lana Turner, John Gavin and Juanita Moore, opening producer Ross Hunter's hit re-make, Imitation Of Life, 1959.
Imitation Of Life (1959) - Ten Seconds Before You Die Out of work model and/or actress and single mom Lora (Lana Turner) has schemed her way into an after-hours meeting at the office of theatrical agent Loomis (Robert Alda) who, it turns out, lacks certain scruples, early in Douglas Sirk's Imitation Of Life, 1959.
Imitation Of Life (1959) - A Falling Star! Susie (Sandra Dee) and Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) are now teens, Lora (Lana Turner) now a Broadway star and Annie (Juanita Moore) still her backup, when old flame Steve (John Gavin) shows up at a premiere party ten years later, in producer Ross Hunter's Imitation Of Life, 1959.
Imitation Of Life (1959) - Foolish Together Single mom and aspiring actress Lora (Lana Turner), embarrassed by Christmas attention from Steve (John Gavin), as housekeeper/roommate Annie (Juanita Moore) takes a call from agent Loomis (Robert Alda), representing Edwards (Dan O'Herlihy), in Douglas Sirk's hit Imitation Of Life, 1959.
All I Desire (1953) - Maybe I Asked For It From the Carol Ryrie Brink novel and director Douglas Sirk, cracking opening all about Barbara Stanwyck, as Vaudeville performer Naomi Murdoch, narrating her back-story then sharing a letter with a colleague (Lela Bliss), in All I Desire, 1953, with Richard Carlson, Lyle Bettger and Lori Nelson.

Trailer

Family

Isadore Fuss
Father
Tailor. Surname pronounced FOOZ; died in 1963.
Anna Fuss
Mother
Died in 1962.

Bibliography