Ferrer in 1960
|Born||Melchor Gastón Ferrer
August 25, 1917
Elberon, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||June 2, 2008
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart failure|
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer|
|Spouse(s)||5 times, to 4 wives:
(m. 1937; div. 1939)
Barbara C. Tripp
(m. 1940; div. 1944)
(m. 1944; div. 1954)
(m. 1954; div. 1968)
|Awards||Walk of Fame
6240 Hollywood Blvd
Ferrer was born in the Elberon section of Long Branch, New Jersey, of Cuban and Irish descent. His father, Dr. José María Ferrer (1857–1920), was born in Cuba, of Spanish ancestry, and was an authority on pneumonia and served as chief of staff of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. His American mother, Mary Matilda Irene (née O'Donohue; 1878–1967), was a daughter of coffee broker Joseph J. O'Donohue, New York's City Commissioner of Parks, a founder of the Coffee Exchange, and a founder of the Brooklyn-New York Ferry. An ardent opponent of Prohibition, Irene Ferrer was named, in 1934, the New York State chairman of the Citizens Committee for Sane Liquor Laws.
Ferrer had three siblings. His elder sister was Dr. M. Irené Ferrer, a cardiologist and educator, who helped refine the cardiac catheter and electrocardiogram. She died in 2004 in Manhattan, New York at age 89 due to pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
His brother, Dr. Jose M. Ferrer, born 1912, was a surgeon; he died in 1982 at age 70 after an abdominal surgery complication. His other sister, Teresa (Terry) Ferrer, was the religion editor of The New York Herald Tribune and education editor of Newsweek. The family is not related to actors José and Miguel Ferrer.
His mother's family, the O'Donohues, were prominent Roman Catholics. Mel Ferrer's aunt, Marie Louise O'Donohue (Mrs. Joseph J. O'Donohue, Jr.) was named a papal countess, and his mother's sister, Teresa Riley O'Donohue, a leading figure in American Catholic charities and welfare organizations, was granted permission by Pope Pius XI to install a private chapel in her New York City apartment.
Ferrer was privately educated at the Bovée School in New York (one of his classmates was the future author Louis Auchincloss) and Canterbury Prep School in Connecticut before attending Princeton University until his sophomore year, at which time he dropped out to devote more time to acting. He also worked as an editor of a small Vermont newspaper and wrote a children's book, Tito's Hats (Garden City Publishing, 1940).
Early Theatre Work
Ferrer began acting in summer stock as a teenager and in 1937 won the Theatre Intime award for best new play by a Princeton undergraduate; the play was called Awhile to Work and co-starred another college student, Frances Pilchard, who would become Ferrer's first wife that same year.
At age twenty-one, he was appearing on the Broadway stage as a chorus dancer, making his debut there as an actor two years later. He appeared as a chorus dancer in two unsuccessful musicals, Cole Porter's You Never Know (musical) and Everywhere I Roam.
Among the films he worked on were Louisiana Hayride (1944), They Live in Fear (1944), Sergeant Mike (1944), Together Again (1944), Meet Miss Bobby Socks (1944), Let's Go Steady (1944), Ten Cents a Dance (1945), and A Thousand and One Nights (1945). Some of these were Bs but others – such as 'Thousand and One Nights – were more prestigious.
Ferrer had a support role in Born to Be Bad (1950) at RKO, directed by Nicholas Ray. At that studio he directed Claudette Colbert in The Secret Fury (1950) and did some directing on Vendetta (1950), The Racket (1951) and Macao (1952).
MGM kept him on for Lili (1953) playing the puppeteer loved by Leslie Caron. It was another large success; Ferrer and Caron also got a hit single out of it, "Hi-Lili-Hi-Lo". Saadia (1953), which Ferrer made with Cornel Wilde was a flop but Knights of the Round Table (1954) was a big hit; Ferrer played King Arthur.
Ferrer met Audrey Hepburn at a party and she wanted to do a play together. They appeared in Ondine (1954) on Broadway and later got married.
Ferrer went to Italy to make Proibito (1954) and England for Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955), directed by Powell and Pressburger. Both films were not widely seen but War and Peace (1956) was a big success; Ferrer played Prince Andrei, co-starring with his then-wife, Audrey Hepburn). In France he supported Ingrid Bergman in Elena and Her Men (1956) directed by Jean Renoir.
Ferrer and Hepburn made Mayerling (1957) for American television; it was released theatrically in some countries.
Ferrer returned to MGM to make The Vintage (1957) with Pier Angeli which was a big flop. He made two films for 20th Century Fox: their all star adaptation of The Sun Also Rises (1957) and Fräulein (1958) a war story with Dana Wynter. At MGM he was one of the last three people on Earth in The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959), another flop.
Ferrer went to Italy to be star in Roger Vadim's vampire movie Blood and Roses (1960). After an English horror film The Hands of Orlac (1960) he did an Italian adventure film Charge of the Black Lancers (1962).
Ferrer was one of several stars in The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1962) and The Longest Day (1962). He had a cameo in his wife's Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and was Marcus Aurelius Cleander in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964).
Ferrer had a support role in Sex and the Single Girl (1964).
Ferrer was mostly a jobbing actor in the 1970s, working much in Italy. Among his credits were A Time for Loving (1972); The Antichrist (1974) in Italy; Brannigan (1974), a crime drama set in London that starred John Wayne; Silent Action (1975) and The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975), both for Sergio Martino; The Net (1975), shot in Germany; The Black Corsair (1976), an Italian swashbuckler; Gangbuster (1977) in Italy; The Pajama Girl Case (1977); Seagulls Fly Low (1977).
Later credits included Eye of the Widow (1991) and Catherine the Great (1995). For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Mel Ferrer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6268 Hollywood Blvd.
Ferrer was married five times, to four women, with whom he had six children. His wives were:
- Frances Gunby Pilchard, his first and third wife, an actress who became a sculptor. They married in 1937, and divorced in 1939 after having one child together.
- Barbara C. Tripp, they married in 1940 and later divorced. They had two children: a daughter, Mela Ferrer (born 1943) and a son, Christopher Ferrer (born 1944).
- Frances Gunby Pilchard, for the 2nd time; they remarried in 1944, and divorced in 1953, after having two more children together: Pepa Philippa Ferrer and Mark Young Ferrer (born 1944).
- Audrey Hepburn, the actress, to whom he was married from 1954 until 1968. They had one child, a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer (born 1960)
- Elizabeth Soukhotine, from Belgium, to whom he was married from 1971 to his death in 2008.
- The Fugitive (1947) as Father Serra (uncredited)
- Lost Boundaries (1949) as Scott Mason Carter
- Born to Be Bad (1950) as Gobby
- The Brave Bulls (1951) as Luis Bello
- Rancho Notorious (1952) as Frenchy Fairmont
- Scaramouche (1952) as Noel, Marquis de Maynes
- Lili (1953) as Paul Berthalet
- Saadia (1953) as Henrik
- Knights of the Round Table (1953) as Arthur
- Proibito (1954) as Don Paolo Salinas
- Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955) as Capt. Alfred Westerman
- War and Peace (1956) as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
- Elena and Her Men (aka, Paris Does Strange Things, 1956) as Le comte Henri de Chevincourt
- Mayerling (1957, TV film; with Audrey Hepburn) as Crown Prince Rudolph
- The Vintage (1957) as Giancarlo Barandero
- The Sun Also Rises (1957) as Robert Cohn
- Fräulein (1958) as Maj. Foster MacLain
- The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1959) as Benson Thacker
- Blood and Roses (1960) as Leopoldo De Karnstein
- Ladies Man (1960) as Georges Gauthier
- The Hands of Orlac (1960) as Stephen Orlac
- Love, Freedom and Treachery (1961) as Mirko
- Charge of the Black Lancers (1962) as Andrea
- The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1962) as Philip Allan (segment "Luxurieux point ne seras")
- The Longest Day (1962) (He was originally signed to play the role of General James M. Gavin but withdrew from the role due to a scheduling conflict) as Maj. General Robert Haines
- Marco Polo (1962)
- Charade (1963) as Man smoking cigarette in nightclub (uncredited)
- Paris When It Sizzles (1964) (Cameo) as Costume Party Jekyll & Hyde (uncredited)
- The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) as Cleander
- Sex and the Single Girl (1964) as Rudy
- Who Are My Own (a.k.a. El señor de La Salle, 1964) as Juan Bautista de La Salle
- El Greco (1966) as El Greco (Domenico Teotocopulo)
- Wait Until Dark (1967) (voice only) as French-Canadian Radio Speaker (voice, uncredited)
- A Time for Loving (1972) as Dr. Harrison
- Columbo: Requiem for a falling star (1973, TV) as Jerry Parks
- Carola (1973, TV film) as Gen. Franz von Clodius
- The Girl from the Red Cabaret (1973) as Dalton Harvey
- The Antichrist (1974) as Massimo Oderisi
- Brannigan (1975) as Fields
- Silent Action (1975) as District Attorney Mannino
- The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975) as Police superintendent
- The Net (1975) as Aurelio Morelli
- Alle origini della mafia (1976, TV miniseries) as Armando Della Morra
- The Black Corsair (1976) as Van Gould
- Eaten Alive (1977) as Harvey Wood
- Gangbuster (1977) as Peseti, the Boss
- The Pajama Girl Case (1977) as Professor Henry Douglas
- Seagulls Fly Low (1978) as Roberto Micheli
- Hi-Riders (1978) as Sheriff
- The Norseman (1978) as King Eurich
- Yesterday's Tomorrow (a.k.a. Zwischengleis, 1978) as Colonel Stone
- The Fifth Floor (1978) as Dr. Sidney Coleman
- L'immoralità (1978) as Vera's husband
- Screamers (a.k.a. Island of the Fishmen, 1979) as Radcliffe (US version)
- Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979) (uncredited)
- The Visitor (1979) as Dr. Walker
- The Great Alligator River (1979) as Joshua
- Eaten Alive! (a.k.a. Doomed to Die, 1980) as Professor Carter
- Top of the Hill (1980) as Andreas Heggener
- The Memory of Eva Ryker (1980) as Dr. Sanford
- Nightmare City (1980) as Murchison
- Lili Marleen (1981) as David Mendelsson
- Vultures on the City (1981)
- Falcon Crest (1981–1984, TV series) as Phillip Erikson
- Mille milliards de dollars (1982) as Cornelius A. Woeagen
- Deadly Game (a.k.a. Die Jäger, 1982) as Stephan Mathiesen
- One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982, TV film) as Carl Charnock
- A Soft Sunset (1984) as Franz Bollenstein
- Peter the Great (1986) (TV miniseries) as Frederick
- Dream West (1986) (TV miniseries) as Judge Elkins
- Eye of the Widow (1991) as Frankenheimer the CIA chief
- Catherine the Great (1995) (TV miniseries) as Patriarch
As Director/Producer/Dialogue Coach:
- Louisiana Hayride (1944) (dialogue coach)
- They Live in Fear (1944) (dialogue coach)
- Sergeant Mike (1944) (dialogue coach)
- Together Again (1944) (dialogue coach)
- Meet Miss Bobby Socks (1944) (dialogue coach)
- Let's Go Steady (1945) (dialogue coach)
- Ten Cents a Dance (1945) (dialogue coach)
- Boston Blackie's Rendezvous (1945) (dialogue coach)
- A Thousand and One Nights (1945) (dialogue coach)
- The Girl of the Limberlost (1945) (director)
- The Fugitive (1947) (directorial assistant)
- The Secret Fury (1950) (director)
- Vendetta (1950) (uncredited director)
- The Racket (1951) (uncredited director)
- Macao (1952) (uncredited director)
- Green Mansions (1959) (director)
- Cabriola (1965) (director)
|1952||Family Theater||Hound of Heaven|
- Some sources spell his first name as MELCHIOR but this is incorrect based on Ferrer's records at Princeton University. Also he was named for his paternal grandfather, Melchor Ferrer. And the name MELCHOR G. FERRER was used on the cover of Tito's Hats, a children's book that Ferrer wrote in 1940.
- "Dr. Jose M. Ferrer", Obituaries, The New York Times, February 24, 1920
- "Weddings: Ferrer-O'Donohue", The New York Times, October 19, 1910
- "Mrs. J.M. Ferrer, Civic Leader, 89", The New York Times, February 21, 1967.
- Changing the Face of Medicine – Dr. M. Irené Ferrer
- "Terry Ferrer, 82, Education Editor", The New York Times, April 1, 2002
- "Joseph O'Donohue, Real Estate Man, Dead", The New York Times, October 31, 1937
- "Teresa O'Donohue, Charities Worker", The New York Times, August 18, 1937
- The book's illustrations were by Jean Charlot.
- "M.G. Ferrer Wins Prize Play Award", The New York Times, March 3, 1937, page 27
- "Kind Lady". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- "Cue for Passion". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- Thomas, Bob (June 3, 2008). "Mel Ferrer, actor-director, husband of Audrey Hepburn, dies". Yahoo! News.
- "Catharsis", Time, February 10, 1941
- Bergan, Ronald (June 5, 2008). "Obituary: Mel Ferrer". The Guardian. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
- Paris, Barry. Audrey Hepburn. pp. 247–248. ISBN 0-425-18212-6.
- Cawthorne, Nigel. Sex Lives of the Hollywood Goddesses Part 2. p. 271. ISBN 1-85375-514-1.
- Notre jour le plus long La Presse de la Manche 2012
- Kirby, Walter (April 20, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved May 9, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (November 29, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved July 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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