Bob Clark

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Bob Clark
Benjamin Robert Clark

(1939-08-05)August 5, 1939
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedApril 4, 2007(2007-04-04) (aged 67)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1966–2007
Notable workBlack Christmas
Murder by Decree
A Christmas Story

Benjamin Robert Clark (August 5, 1939 – April 4, 2007) was an American film director and screenwriter. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was responsible for some of the most successful films in Canadian film history such as Black Christmas (1974), Murder by Decree (1979), Tribute (1980), Porky's (1981), and A Christmas Story (1983).[1][2][3] He won three Genie Awards (two Best Direction and one Best Screenplay) with two additional nominations.

Personal life[edit]

Clark was born in New Orleans in 1939,[4] but grew up in Birmingham, Alabama,[5] and later moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He grew up poor. His father died during his childhood and his mother was a barmaid.[6]

After attending Catawba College majoring in philosophy, Clark won a football scholarship to Hillsdale College in Michigan,[7] where he played quarterback. Eventually he studied theater at the University of Miami, turning down offers to play professional football.[8] He did briefly play semi-pro for the Fort Lauderdale Black Knights.[7]

Clark was divorced, and had two sons, Michael and Ariel.[9]


Clark's career began with She-Man: A Story of Fixation (1967) featured in a gender-bender double feature. Then transitioned into the horror genre in the early 1970s. His first film, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972), was a blend of comedy and graphic horror.

Clark and his collaborator for this film, screenwriter and makeup artist Alan Ormsby, would revisit the zombie subgenre in 1972's Deathdream, also known by its alternative title, Dead of Night, a Vietnam War allegory that takes its cue from the classic short story "The Monkey's Paw". The slasher film Black Christmas (1974) was one of his most successful films in this period, and is remembered today as an influential precursor to the modern slasher film genre.[9] Clark had moved to Canada, then a tax haven for Americans, and these Canuxploitation productions were small by Hollywood standards but made Clark a big fish in the small pond of the Canadian film industry of that era.[8]

Clark executive-produced the moonshine movie Moonrunners, which was used as source material for the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. Clark later produced the 2000 TV movie The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood. Clark and others sued Warner Bros. over the studio's 2005 movie The Dukes of Hazzard, winning a $17.5 million settlement just prior to the movie's release.[10]

Turning toward more serious fare, Clark scored a critical success with the Sherlock Holmes film Murder by Decree, starring Christopher Plummer and Geneviève Bujold, which won five Genie Awards including Best Achievement in Direction and Best Performance for both leads. He followed this with a movie of the Bernard Slade play Tribute, starring Jack Lemmon reprising his Broadway role, for which Lemmon was nominated for an Academy Award and 11 Genies including a win for Lemmon's performance.[8]

Clark returned to his B-movie roots, though, co-writing, producing, and directing Porky's, a longtime personal project. Clark had a detailed outline based on his own youth in Florida, which he dictated into a cassette recorder due to illness, and collaborator Roger Swaybill said of listening to the tapes, "I became convinced that I was sharing in the birth of a major moment in movie history. It was the funniest film story I had ever heard."[9]

Though set in the United States, the film would go on to gross more than any other English-language Canadian film.[8] The film was the third most successful release of 1982 and by the end of the film's lengthy initial release, in 1983, Porky's had secured itself a spot, albeit short-lived, as one of the top-25 highest-grossing films of all time in the US. The film was (also briefly) the most successful comedy in film history.

The overwhelming success of Porky's is credited as launching the genre of the teen sex comedy[11] so prevalent throughout the 1980s, and which continued into the millennium in such films as the American Pie series. Clark wrote, produced, and directed the film's first sequel, Porky's II: The Next Day (1983), which did not feature the title character, and introduced two new antagonists with perhaps greater relevance, a blustering fundamentalist preacher, and a sleazy local politician who cynically caters to his influence, while seducing a teenage girl.

Clark refused involvement with a third film, Porky's Revenge!, which brought Porky and the sexual exploits of the cast back front and center as in the first installment, as well as bringing everything full-circle and bringing the gang's high school rowdy escapades to a close.

He instead collaborated with Jean Shepherd on A Christmas Story, which critic Leonard Maltin described as "one of those rare movies you can say is perfect in every way".[12] Although not a box-office smash in its theatrical release, A Christmas Story would go on to become a perennial holiday favorite via repeated TV airings and home video. A joint effort at a sequel in 1994, My Summer Story, did not fare as well; Maltin said that the studio waited too long, and Clark was forced to recast almost the entire film.[12] Three other film versions of the Parker family had been produced for television by PBS with Shepherd's involvement during the late 1980s, also with a different cast, but without Clark's participation.

Clark continued to stay active in the film industry until his death, with lower-budget fare mixed in with brief runs at higher targets. A The Hollywood Reporter critic, speaking after his death, described his career as "a very unusual mix of films", because he "at times was a director-for-hire and would do films that, to say the least, aren't stellar".[12] Some of his last output included Baby Geniuses and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.

Clark was nominated twice for the Razzie Awards as "Worst Director", for Rhinestone and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. At the end of his life, he was working with Howard Stern on a remake of Porky's, and, with Black Christmas having been remade, two of his other early horror films were slated for expensive remakes: Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things and Deathdream.[13]


Clark and his younger son, Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were killed in a head-on car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles on the morning of April 4, 2007.[14] The crash occurred when an SUV crossed the median and struck Clark's Infiniti I30, causing the closure of the highway for eight hours.[9] Police determined that the SUV's driver, Héctor Manuel Velázquez-Nava, had a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit and was driving without a license.[15] Velázquez-Nava was described by federal authorities as being in the U.S. illegally.[16] The driver initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter,[17] but changed his plea to no contest in August, and was sentenced to six years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement on October 12, 2007.[18]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1966 The Emperor's New Clothes Yes Yes No Short film
1967 She-Man Yes Yes No Co-written with Jeff Gillen
1972 Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Alan Ormsby
1974 Deathdream Yes No Yes
Black Christmas Yes No Yes Also portrayed Billy in scenes where the character is shown on-screen
1976 Breaking Point Yes No Yes
1979 Murder by Decree Yes No Yes
1980 Tribute Yes No No
1981 Porky's Yes Yes Yes
1983 Porky's II: The Next Day Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Roger Swaybill and Alan Ormsby
A Christmas Story Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Jean Shepherd and Leigh Brown
1984 Rhinestone Yes No No
1985 Turk 182 Yes No No
1987 From the Hip Yes Yes Yes Co-written with David E. Kelley
1990 Loose Cannons Yes Yes No Co-written with Richard Christian Matheson and Richard Matheson
1994 My Summer Story Yes Yes No Co-written with Jean Shepherd and Leigh Brown
1999 Baby Geniuses Yes Yes No Co-written with Greg Michael
I'll Remember April Yes No No
2002 Now & Forever Yes No No
2004 Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 Yes No No
2008 Blonde and Blonder Uncredited No No Uncredited co-director with Dean Hamilton[a]

Executive Producer

Year Title Notes
1974 Deranged Uncredited
1975 Moonrunners
1991 Popcorn Uncredited
2006 Black Christmas Remake of his 1974 film of the same title


Year(s) Title Director Writer Notes
1979, 2000 The Dukes of Hazzard No Yes Episodes: ''Repo Men'', ''Hazzard in Hollywood''
1985 Amazing Stories Yes No Episode: ''Remote Control Man''
1993 The American Clock Yes No Television film
1995 Fudge Yes Yes Pilot film: ''Fudge-a-mania''
Derby Yes No Television films
1996 Stolen Memories: Secrets from the Rose Garden Yes No
1998 The Ransom of Red Chief Yes No
2000 Catch a Falling Star Yes No
2003 Maniac Magee Yes No
2004 The Karate Dog Yes No


  1. ^ Bob Clark in fact directed the film, including additional re-shoots in Los Angeles. Due to the fact that his Canadian citizenship had lapsed he was unable to receive director's credit. He was still fighting to get the credit when he was killed in a car accident.


  1. ^ Garrett, Diane (April 5, 2007). "Bob Clark, 67, director". Variety. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "Canuxploitation Interview: Bob Clark". Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Bergan, Ronald (April 11, 2007). "Obituary: Bob Clark". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  4. ^ Reuters reported on the day of his death, "Clark was 67, according to police, although some reference sites list him as 65."
  5. ^, Philip Beel. "Canuxploitation Interview: Bob Clark".
  6. ^ (July 29, 2005). "Interview: Bob Clark". Canuxploitation. Retrieved April 6, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Lamkin, Elaine (January 2006). "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things: Bob Clark". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d "Bob Clark". Canadian Film Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Valerie Reitman and Andrew Blankstein (April 5, 2007). "'A Christmas Story' director dies in crash". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 6, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  10. ^ Lippman, John (July 15, 2005). "How a lingering legal issue threatened 'Dukes of Hazzard'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  11. ^ Dana Harris (June 19, 2001). "At 20, 'Risky' is still frisky". Variety. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c Greg Hernandez (April 5, 2007). "Film director Clark and son die in crash". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2007. Typographical error fixed.
  13. ^ Brendan Kelly (December 3, 2006). "'Porky's' helmer is back: Clark prepping re-makes of his early horror films, teen sex romp". Variety. Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  14. ^ "'A Christmas Story' director dies in crash". Los Angeles Times. April 5, 2007. Archived from the original on April 6, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  15. ^ Valerie Reitman and Andrew Blankstein (April 6, 2007). "Driver was drunk in PCH crash that killed 2". L.A. Times.
  16. ^ "Driver was drunk in PCH crash that killed 2". Los Angeles Times. April 6, 2007.
  17. ^ archived copy of LA Times Article: Driver accused of DUI in crash that killed director pleads not guilty Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine by Valerie Reitman and Andrew Blankstein, Times Staff Writers 3:19 PM PDT, April 6, 2007. Accessed May 11, 2007
  18. ^ Finn, Natalia (October 12, 2007). "Prison for Driver in Fatal Director Crash". E! News. Retrieved December 30, 2017.

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