July 7, 1927|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Died||December 13, 2017
Los Angeles, California
|Education||B.A. Colgate University|
|Spouse(s)||Nancy Hope Lundgren
Joan Marie Ransohoff
|Parent(s)||Babette and Arthur Ransohoff|
|Family||Howard J. Burnett (brother-in-law)|
Early life and education
Ransohoff was born on July 7, 1927 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Babette and Arthur Ransohoff. His mother was a former Republican National Committeewoman. He had one sister Barbara Burnett (married to Howard J. Burnett) and one brother Jack, a nuclear engineer. He attended Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut and graduated with a B.A. in History and English from Colgate University in 1948.
After school in he worked at several jobs (peddling housewares door-to-door, selling autos, and working at an advertising agency), before joining Caravel Films (later Transfilm-Caravel) in 1950 in New York City where he worked as a salesman, writer, and producer.
In 1952, he co-founded the film production company Filmways, Inc. with Edwin Kasper (Kasper left the firm in 1957). The firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1959. Filmways started making TV commercials, moved into documentaries then sitcoms; by 1963 Filmways were making $13 million a year. Mister Ed and The Beverly Hillbillies brought Ransohoff his first successes in 1960 and 1962. Thereafter he turned his attention to films. .
Ransohoff's first film as producer was Boys' Night Out (1962) starring James Garner and Kim Novak and distributed by MGM. Garner was also in Ransohoff's next two films, both of which were directed by Arthur Hiller: The Wheeler Dealers (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964); the latter, based on a script by Paddy Chayefsky, was particularly praised.
Ransohoff found commercial success with The Sandpiper (1965) based on a story by the producer and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. He produced The Cincinnati Kid (1965), firing Sam Peckinpah as director during filming and replacing him with Norman Jewison; the movie received strong reviews. Less popular was The Loved One (1965). Eye of the Devil (1967) was a thriller originally starring Kim Novak, David Niven and a young actor Ransohoff put under personal contract, Sharon Tate. Novak was injured during filming and was replaced by Deborah Kerr. Tate was in Ransohoff's next films, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) directed by Roman Polanski whom she would marry (Ransohoff was executive producer), and Don't Make Waves (1967). He executive produced Our Mother's House (1967) in England and produced Ice Station Zebra (1968).
Ransohoff then signed a deal with Columbia, who distributed his A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), Castle Keep (1969), and Hamlet (1969). He made Catch-22 (1970) at Paramount, The Moonshine War (1970) at MGM, and 10 Rillington Place (1971) and See No Evil (1971) at Columbia. King Lear (1971) was released by a smaller company. He also made Fuzz (1972) and Save the Tiger (1973). His last film for Filmways was The White Dawn (1974).
In 1972 Ransohoff became an independent producer. He signed a contract with Paramount to make movies for them. Ransohoff went on to produce such films as Silver Streak (1976), Nightwing (1979), and The Wanderers (1979). He made a short lived TV series Co-Ed Fever (1979) but focused on features: A Change of Seasons (1980), American Pop (1981), Hanky Panky (1982), and Class (1983).
Columbia and later films
Ransohoff had success with Jagged Edge (1985) based on a script for Joe Eszterhaus. It was made by Columbia who also distributed Ransohoff's The Big Town (1987), Switching Channels (1988), Physical Evidence (1989), and Welcome Home (1989). Ransohoff's later films included Guilty as Sin (1993) and Turbulence (1997).
Ransohoff was married twice. His first wife was Nancy Hope Lundgren; they had four children Peter (born 1952), Karen (born 1954), and twins Steven and Kurt (born 1957). His second wife was Joan Marie Ransohoff, an artist. Ransohoff died on December 13, 2017, at his Bel Air home in Los Angeles. He was 90.
- "Martin Ransohoff". Yahoo! TV.
- "Martin Ransohoff". The New York Times.
- Broadcasting Magazine: "Our respects to...Martin Ransohoff" November 16, 1959, p.121
- New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths Ransohoff, Babette" December 7, 2000
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "OBITUARIES: Barbara R. Burnett, wife of Dr. Howard J. Burnett, president of Washington & Jefferson College, died of heart failure Wednesday in - Sarasota, Fla." March 15, 1991 | "Mrs. Burnett, 60, of Washington, Washington County, graduated in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Mount Holyoke College. She worked as a sales clerk for B.H. Blackwell's in Oxford, England, in 1953 and 1954. In the 1960s, she was the circulation manager for the Finger Lakes Chronicle magazine in Corning, N.Y. Mrs. Burnett moved to Washington in July 1970, when her husband was named president of Washington lit Jefferson College....In addition to her husband, Mrs. Burnett is survived by two daughters, Lee Berman of Stamford, Conn., and Susan Petito of New York City; a son, Mark of Lexington, Mass.; three grandchildren; her mother, Babette Ransohoff of Stamford; and two brothers, Jack and Martin Ransohoff....Services will 'be at 11 a.m. Monday in First Presbyterian Church of Washington."
- Martin Ransohoff Expands Program: Success in TV Encourages $10 Million Movie Gamble Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Feb 1963: C11.
- Scheuer, P. K. (1963, Feb 18). Martin ransohoff expands program. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/168299305?accountid=13902
- SEIDENBAUM, A. (1964, Feb 12). A real live(ly) production. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/168523332?accountid=13902
- Bathollywood, Peter (3 Jan 1965). "Message Merchant On The Run". New York Times. p. X9.
- Filmways' Ransohoff Quits As President and Director, Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Sep 1972: 25.
- Radio and Television Martin Ransohoff Knows His Market, by Lawrence Laurent. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 19 Jan 1966: C5.
- RANSOHOFF SIGNED BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES. (1972, Oct 02). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/157036779?accountid=13902
- Canby, Vincent (February 13, 1981). "'American Pop' Grown-Up Animation". The New York Times.
- Artist Joan Marie retrieved October 25, 2017
- Martin Ransohoff, 'Cincinnati Kid' Producer and Founder of Filmways TV, Dies at 90