Joseph T. Naar, a former William Morris agent who went to produce blaxploitation vampire pics “Blacula” and “Scream Blacula Scream,” as well as TV series “Starsky and Hutch,” died January 17. He was 88.
At WMA, after Naar was fast-tracked through the agency’s training program in the early 1950s, his clients came to include Peter Lawford, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Raquel Welch and Marilyn Monroe. (Monroe became a close friend and confidant.)
His creative impulses led him out of the agency business and into TV production, however.
Naar’s television career included producing the Ronald Reagan-hosted “General Electric Comedy Hour,” “Lux Playhouse” and the series “Checkmate” before producing his first movies, which include “The All American Boy,” starring Jon Voight, as well as “Blacula” and “Scream Blacula Scream,” starring William Marshall and Vonetta McGee, for AIP Productions.
Next he went back into TV under Spelling Goldberg Prods., where he produced the hit cop series “Starsky and Hutch.” He then moved to Blake Edwards Productions, where he produced TV series “Strike Force” with Robert Culp and “Half Nelson” with Joe Pesci starring.
Naar grew up in the ghettos of Boyle Heights, became a star running back for L.A. High and postponed his football career and B.A. at UCLA to volunteer for the Navy during WWII, finishing three tours of “hazardous” duty totaling 36 months of combat operations on P.T. boats in the South Pacific. After the war at UCLA he ran 66 yards against Illinois on a kickoff return in the 1946 Rose Bowl.
Naar’s longtime friendship with Peter Lawford (who at the time was married to Patricia Kennedy) opened the door to Camelot, a discrete presidentially appointed world that joyously adopted Joe and his wife Dolores and had them jetting around the country with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
Survivors include Naar’s three children, Peter, Sharman and Andrew, as well as his ex-wife turned best friend and lifelong companion Dolores Nemiro. He is predeceased by his second wife Barbara Rand Naar.