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Raymond Wagner, TV Producer, Exec, Dies at 85

Raymond Wagner, a producer of films including “Petulia” and, later, “Turner and Hooch” and formerly a top executive at Universal Studios and MGM, died of natural causes March 12 in Westwood, Calif. He was 85.

Wagner oversaw TV pilots for Universal during the 1960s and produced an early movie of the week, 1964’s “The Hanged Man.” He began his feature producing career with director Richard Lester’s 1968 film “Petulia,” starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott, followed by Irvin Kershner’s “Loving,” starring George Segal and Eva Marie Saint, in 1970.

As VP of production at MGM during the 1970s, Wagner oversaw the production of films including “Network,” “Fame,” “The Champ,” “The Passenger,” “The Sunshine Boys,” “Coma” and “Logan’s Run.”

As an independent producer, he later produced Tom Hanks comedy “Turner and Hooch” as well as “Code of Silence,” “Rent-a-Cop,” “Run” and “Snow Day.” And Wagner’s creative efforts were not limited to TV and film: In 1970, he produced the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “No Place to Be Somebody” with writer-director Charles Gordone and later wrote the adapted screenplay with Gordone.

Wagner came to show business by way of the advertising business. He was the head of the TV commercial department for Young and Rubicam’s New York and Hollywood offices and directed commercials in the 1950s, as well as writing advertising jingles.

During the 1960s he teamed with director Robert Altman to run a production company for a time and hired Sherry Lansing, later president of production at 20th Century Fox and CEO of Paramount, as a script reader.

Wagner was a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (producers branch).

He is survived by his wife, Christine, and three children.

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