Pablo Ferro, who designed the title sequences for classic films like Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” “Bullitt,” and “Men In Black,” has died from complications from pneumonia in Sedona, Ariz. He was 83.
Ferro’s family confirmed the news to industry publication the Art of the Title.
Cuban-born Ferro’s first title sequence was for “Dr. Strangelove,” and featured cards that were hand-lettered with grease pencil on glass. Another of his early notable title sequences was for 1968’s “The Thomas Crowne Affair,” directed by Norman Jewison.
Ferro, who was born on a farm in Antilla and moved to New York in his teens, began as an illustrator for Atlas Comics and worked with Stan Lee on a series of science fiction adventure comics. From there, he got a job with Academy Pictures, eventually becoming an animator for the company, before transitioning to work for Elektra Films on sophisticated commercials. In 1961, Ferro founded the group Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz, which worked predominantly on commercials, with Fred Mogubgub and Lew Schwartz. He formed Pablo Ferro Films in 1964.
Ferro explained how the opening sequences for “Dr. Strangelove” were conceived in a feature interview for the Art of the Title.
“The titles for ‘Strangelove’ were last-minute; I didn’t have much time to produce it. It came up because of a conversation between Stanley and I,” he said. “Two weeks after I finished with everything, he and I were talking. He asked me what I thought about human beings. I said one thing about human beings is that everything that is mechanical, that is invented, is very sexual. We looked at each other and realized — the B-52, refueling in mid-air, of course, how much more sexual can you get?! He loved the idea. He wanted to shoot it with models we had, but I said let me take a look at the stock footage, I am sure that [the makers of those planes] are very proud of what they did and, sure enough, they had shot the plane from every possible angle.”
He was also known for creating the first color NBC Peacock in the late 1950s while at Elektra. He worked on nine films directed by Jonathan Demme, including “Stop Making Sense,” “Philadelphia,” and “Married to the Mob.”
He continued to design through the ’90s, making title sequences for Gus van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting,” “L.A. Confidential,” and the first “Men In Black.” He was close friends with Hal Ashby, and worked on his films “Harold and Maude,” “Bound for Glory,” and “Being There.”
Twelve of the films featuring Farro’s work have gone on to win Oscars. Ferro won numerous Clios throughout his life, as well as a DGA Excellence in Film award, and was inducted into the Art Directors Hall of Fame in 2000.