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Martin Ransohoff, Filmways Founder and ‘Cincinnati Kid’ Producer, Dies at 90

Martin Ransohoff, who produced notable films of the 1960s and ’70s such as “The Cincinnati Kid” and “Save the Tiger” and co-founded Filmways Television, died Wednesday at his home in Bel-Air,Calif. He was 90.

 

Filmways produced some of the biggest TV hits of the 1960s including “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Addams Family,” “Petticoat Junction,” “Green Acres” and “The Hollywood Squares.”

Ransohoff later entered the movie business along with Filmways’ executive John Calley. Their first film was 1962’s “Boys’ Night Out,” followed by 1963’s “The Wheeler Dealers.” He also was behind the 1965 New Orleans-set drama, “The Cincinnati Kid,” which starred Steve McQueen, Edward G. Robinson, Ann-Margret, and Karl Malden. Ransohoff famously fired Sam Peckinpah from the film, feeling his vision was too dark, and hired Norman Jewison to direct.

He exited the company in 1972 to become an independent film producer.

Among his producing credits were Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s “The Sandpiper,” Tony Richardson’s “Hamlet,” “Catch-22,” “Ice Station Zebra,” “The Americanization of Emily,” “Ice Station Zebra” and “Silver Streak.”

1973’s “Save the Tiger,” written by Steve Shagan and starring Jack Lemmon and Jack Gilford, earned two Oscar nominations and one win for Lemmon. He continued producing into the 1980s, with 1985’s Glenn Close-Jeff Bridges starrer “Jagged Edge” landing an Oscar nom for Robert Loggia.

Ransohoff’s own acting endeavor consisted of an uncredited role in 1965’s “The Loved Ones,” which was produced by Filmways.

The producer was also known for launching Sharon Tate’s acting career. She played the bank secretary on “The Beverly Hillbillies” before being cast by director Roman Polanski in the Ransohoff-produced “The Fearless Vampire Killers.” Ransohoff introduced her to Polanski, and the two were married in January 1968. Less than two years later, she was murdered at age 26 in her L.A. home by members of the Manson family.

Born in New Orleans, Ransohoff secured a degree from Colgate University in 1949. Upon graduation, he worked in advertising at Young & Rubicam in New York before getting his start in television.

He co-founded Filmways, a television and film production company, with Ed Kasper in 1952. When he was in his early 30s, Ransohoff became one of the youngest men to take an entertainment company public in 1958.

Ransohoff is survived by his wife Joan Marie; sons Peter, Kurt, and Steve; stepdaughter Erica; stepson Steve; and 10 grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by a daughter, Karen.

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