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Former MGM/UA Production Prexy Robert Relyea Dies at 82

Producer and exec was also second unit director on 'The Great Escape'

Producer Robert E. Relyea, who worked on pics alongside Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Steve McQueen (pictured with Relyea at left), and held top production posts at Paramount, Lorimar and MGM/UA, died on March 5 in Westlake Village, Calif. He was 82.

Relyea joined MGM in 1955 as an entry-level crew member and, in a career spanning more than half a century, worked his way up to prexy of production of MGM/UA from 1997-2001.

Relyea climbed the production ladder and studio ranks, working as first assistant director on numerous MGM projects, and in 1961 joined John Sturges’ Alpha Corp., where he served as associate producer and second-unit helmer on “The Great Escape.”

Other credits include “The Magnificent Seven,” “West Side Story,” the Elvis Presley-starrer “Jailhouse Rock,” John Wayne’s “The Alamo” and “Never So Few,” which featured Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen.

Relyea formed a partnership in 1966 with McQueen on the star’s indie shingle, Solar Prods., where Relyea served as exec producer. Indie credits include “The Day of the Dolphin,” “Blame It on Rio” and “Last Action Hero.”

Relyea also held exec posts at Melvin Simon Prods., Lorimar and Par, where he served as senior VP of motion picture management.

In 1996, then-California Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Relyea to head the California Film Commission, and in 2008, Relyea penned an autobiography about his career, which was titled “Not So Quiet on the Set.”

Born in Santa Monica, Calif. in 1930, Relyea attended UCLA and marked the third generation of his family to work in the motion picture biz.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; five children; two stepchildren; and grandchildren.

Donations in Relyea’s name may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

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