Ted Hartley

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Ted Hartley
Chopper One cast 1974.JPG
Ted Hartley (center) with Dirk Benedict and Jim McMullan in Chopper One, 1974.
Born Theodore Ringwalt Hartley
(1935-11-06) November 6, 1935 (age 79)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Actor, businessman
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Dina Merrill

Theodore Ringwalt "Ted" Hartley (born November 6, 1935) has been a US Navy fighter pilot, an investment banker, an actor, producer, and is currently CEO of RKO Pictures. He is married to heiress, actress and philanthropist Dina Merrill.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hartley was born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised on a farm in Iowa. His father died when he was 5, causing financial hardships for the family. At the age of 14, he entered a contest sponsored by Warner Bros., wrote a 50-word essay on “Why I like to fly”, and won some flying lessons. Hartley attended Shattuck Military School in Minnesota, and by the age of 16 he had won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. After flight training, he served as a carrier-based fighter pilot, later flying F-11s following their introduction in 1956. After being thrown from his aircraft during a carrier crash landing, on a F9-F8 variant on the USS Hornet off the coast of Cuba, Hartley broke his back and was medically discharged from the US Navy in 1964.[citation needed]


In May 1964, while he was a United States Navy Lt. Commander, his fighter jet crashed near Corpus Christi, Texas, after contact with his wingman. Hartley's military career being finished he began a career in financial services. He became a Vice President for First Western Financial Corporation from which he was fired. His next career was in Hollywood, as an actor, where he took on the role of Reverend Jerry Bedford on the 1960s television series Peyton Place.[citation needed]

He had minor roles in films with Cary Grant, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood, and then in the late 1970s was cast in his own series, ABC's Chopper One, about helicopter cops. The series failed, and Hartley's agent advised him to take a year off. Hartley then moved to Aspen, Colorado, where he volunteered as the Managing Artistic Director of the local theater, and then turned to commodity trading full-time.[citation needed]

In 1987 he became involved with Pavilion Communications Inc., a company designed to acquire smaller entertainment companies. Through this, Hartley learned of an opportunity to take over RKO Pictures. He and Merrill purchased 51% of the company and merged Pavilion Communications with RKO Pictures Corporation in 1991, forming RKO Pictures, Inc. Their first major project was the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young. As chairman and chief executive office of RKO Pictures, Hartley has led RKO's worldwide development and production activities in movies and television as well as the expansion of the RKO brand to stage and other entertainment and distribution venues. He produced the 1998 RKO classic film Mighty Joe Young with Disney (1998), Ritual with Miramax (2000), Magnificent Ambersons (2002), Shade, starring Sylvester Stallone (2003). For RKO Stage, Hartley produced the musicals Never Gonna Dance (2003), Curtains (2007), Gypsy (2008), 13 (2008) on Broadway, and Top Hat (2012) in the West End.[citation needed]

In 2013 he was appointed chairman of the board of Orbis International, a nonprofit eye-healthcare organization he has been involved with since 2010.[2]

Producer credits[edit]


  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (producer)
  • Laura Smiles (producer)
  • Shade (producer)
  • The Gin Game (executive producer)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (executive producer)
  • Ritual (producer)
  • Mighty Joe Young (producer)
  • Milk & Money (producer)
  • False Identity (executive producer)
  • Women And Men: Stories Of Seduction (executive producer)

Stage Productions[edit]

  • Never Gonna Dance - 2003 Broadway musical
  • Curtains - 2007 Broadway musical
  • Gypsy - 2008 Broadway musical (revival starring Patti Lupone)
  • 13 - 2008 Broadway musical
  • Top Hat - 2012 West End Musical


  1. ^ Samantha Miller, Danelle Morton and Vicki Sheff-Cahan (April 19, 1999). "Encore, Encore: Now behind the camera, Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley make movie magic together" (PDF). People magazine. People magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Bogusz, Christopher (6 August 2013). "Ted hartley appointed chairman of orbis international board of directors". Orbis. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 

External links[edit]