Sandy Howard, who produced classic Western “A Man Called Horse” and more than 70 other films, died Friday in Woodland Hills, Calif. of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Howard started in show business as a teenager as a publicist for Broadway shows working for Lee Solters.
At just 19, he began directing “Howdy Doody” shows for early television. He continued in television as producer and director of “Captain Kangaroo” and went on to produce “Author Meets the Critics” in the late ’50s, where he tangled with an intoxicated Senator Joseph McCarthy. He also served as exec producer of “The Barry Gray Radio Show,” an early controversial talkshow.
He moved to Hollywood to become a feature producer, producing films during the 1960s including “Diary of a Bachelor” and “King of Africa.”
In the 1970s, he teamed with director Elliot Silverstein for “A Man Called Horse,” starring Richard Harris. He continued with films including “Man in the Wilderness,” starring Richard Harris, “The Neptune Factor,” “The Return of a Man Called Horse” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” starring Burt Lancaster.
During the 1980s, he produced “Triumphs of a Man Called Horse,” “Hambone and Hillie,” “Angel,” “Vice Squad” and Penelope Spheeris’ “The Boys Next Door.” Jodie Foster had one of her first feature roles in Howard’s “Echoes of Summer,” while he worked with Sean Connery and Natalie Wood in “Meteor.”
During the course of filming dozens of pictures overseas, the adventurous, handsome producer sometimes tangled with local authorities. While filming in South Africa, he took a stand against apartheid by refusing to separate the black cast and crew members from the whites. When the government stepped in the enforce their political agenda he moved a sleeping bag into the African compound and stayed with the segregated cast and crew.
He was also imprisoned in Greece for an explosion on the set of “Sky Rider,” and had to bribe Greek officials so the crew member responsible would not be imprisoned by the military regime.
Howard, who had no children, was previously married to publicist Arlene Howard, who had worked as a production assistant with him during the early days of his career.
He is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.