Producer Douglas Laurence, whose credits included three films starring Elvis Presley, died on Oct. 2 due to complications following surgery. He was 93.
Laurence produced several movies for MGM between 1960 and 1970, including three of Presley’s last features, “Speedway,” “Stay Away, Joe” and “Live a Little, Love a Little,” all made in 1968. Laurence’s other producing credits include two films from director Delbert Mann, “Quick Before It Melts” (1964) and James Garner starrer “Mister Buddwing” (1966).
Douglas Laurence (ne Jenkinson) was born in Totowa Boro, N.J. In high school, he played bass and sang at local venues with his uncle’s band. An encounter with bandleader Tommy Dorsey led to his touring with the big band as Dorsey’s personal driver. At age 19, he moved to New York to sing professionally under the stage name Douglas Laurence, which he subsequently adopted as his legal name.
During WWII Laurence served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in Europe. He flew 50 missions as an engineer-gunner on B-17s, was shot down, taken prisoner and escaped. He was awarded the Air Medal, the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, Laurence worked in various facets of entertainment before producing movies — including personal management, radio and record albums, and forays into Las Vegas and television. He managed the Wilder Brothers and the Continentals and the comedy team of Rowan & Martin, and he did a stint as director of entertainment at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. As a record producer, he produced singles and albums for the Wilder Brothers, Dick Stabile’s Orchestra and “Miss Show Business” featuring Judy Garland, for Capital Records.
After leaving films, Laurence lectured at universities including UCLA, USC and NYU on the subject of movies and participated on various film festival panels.
He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Laurence is survived by his wife of 65 years, Frances, a published author; his daughter Valentina and son-in-law David Oliver Pfeil (a director, director of photography and film titles designer); stepson David Baughn; son Paul; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.