Michael Ritchie (film director)
Michael Brunswick Ritchie
November 28, 1938
Waukesha, Wisconsin, United States
|Died||April 16, 2001 (aged 62)|
The Bad News Bears
|Spouse(s)||Jimmie B. Ritchie|
Michael Brunswick Ritchie (November 28, 1938 – April 16, 2001) was an American film director, producer and writer of films with comical or satirical leanings, such as The Candidate and Smile. He scored commercial successes directing sports films like Downhill Racer and The Bad News Bears, and Chevy Chase's Fletch comedies.
Ritchie was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the son of Patricia (née Graney) and Benbow Ferguson Ritchie. His family later moved to Berkeley, California, where his father was a professor of experimental psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and his mother was the art and music librarian for the city. He attended Berkeley High School before becoming interested in film, and was accepted at Harvard University following high school. He told Robert Redford's biographer, author Michael Feeney Callan, that academic interest in film culture was the basis and drive for his career.[This quote needs a citation] In 1994, Ritchie purchased the hacienda-style house at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles, where Marilyn Monroe died in 1962. He bought the property for $995,000 and it became his Los Angeles family base. Also in 1994, Ritchie moved to Manhattan with his wife, Jimmie B. Ritchie, and daughters, Lillian (b. 1986) and Miriam (b. 1988). His additional children include a son, Steven (b. 1973); daughters Lauren (b. 1966) and Jessica (b. 1973), and two stepchildren, Nelly Bly and Billy Bly. His sister, Elsie Ritchie, acted in two of his films: The Candidate and Smile.
While at Harvard, Ritchie directed the original production of the Arthur Kopit play, Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This led Robert Saudek to offer him a job, and Ritchie worked on several TV series prior to his film debut in 1969 with Downhill Racer.
As a director, Ritchie's output was highly varied. Although originally known for his sports films and satires in the 1970s, such as The Candidate and The Bad News Bears, he became more known for his broad comedies in the 1980s, such as Fletch.
Ritchie also briefly pursued a career as an author, writing Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television, a nonfiction book about the experimental period of the television industry from the 1920s through the 1940s.
Death and legacy
Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "It’s difficult to think of any director, ever, who had a more consistently uneven career." According to Jean-Pierre Coursodon, his films were recognized as "unpretentious, closely observed, finely textured works...there comes a point when, looking back, one sees that their consistency itself – consistent excellence – is telling us something: something about the way that cinema itself is able to move out and look around." Ritchie died from complications related to prostate cancer.
|Downhill Racer||1969||Yes||No||No||Directorial debut|
|The Bad News Bears||1976||Yes||No||No|
|The Bad News Bears Go to Japan||1978||No||Yes||No|
|An Almost Perfect Affair||1979||Yes||No||Story|
|Divine Madness||Yes||No||No||Concert film|
|The Golden Child||Yes||No||No|
|The Couch Trip||1988||Yes||No||No|
|Innocent Blood||No||No||No||Role as "Night Watchman"|
|Cops & Robbersons||1994||Yes||No||No|
|The Fantasticks||1995||Yes||Yes||No||Also music producer|
|A Simple Wish||1997||Yes||No||No|
|The Theater of Tomorrow||1963||Yes||No|
|The Sound of Anger||1968||Yes||No|
|The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom||1993||Yes||No||Voice role as "Minister"|
|Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie||2002||No||Story|
|Omnibus||1955||Yes||No||Segment "The Trial of St. Joan"|
|Profiles in Courage||1965||Yes||Yes||Director (2 episodes) / Producer (2 episodes)|
|Dr. Kildare||Yes||No||3 episodes|
|The Big Valley||1966||Yes||No||3 episodes|
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Yes||No||Episode "The Nowhere Affair"|
|Felony Squad||Yes||No||3 episodes|
|Run for Your Life||1966-67||Yes||No||11 episodes|
|Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||1967||Yes||No||Episode "To Sleep, Perchance to Scream"|
|The Outsider||1967-68||Yes||No||2 episodes|
|The Survivors||1969||Yes||No||2 episodes|
|L'encyclopédie audio-visuelle||1993||Yes||No||Docmentary series; episode "Albert Einstein"|
|Beggars and Choosers||1999||Yes||No||2 episodes|
- Michael Ritchie Biography (1938-2001)
- "BRENTWOOD : Marilyn Monroe's House Sold, May Be Torn Down". Los Angeles Times. 1994-11-08. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
- van Gelder, Lawrence (2001-04-18). "Michael Ritchie, 62, Director Of 'Smile' and 'Downhill Racer'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
- The Washington Post, "John V. Tunney, California lawmaker whose campaign inspired a film, dies at 83", By Matt Schudel, 914 words, 16 January 2018. Retrieved on 9/11/2020
- Willman, Chris. "EW.com's tribute to Downhill Racer director Michael Ritchie". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
- Ritchie, Michael (1994). Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television. Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-615-1.
- Coursodon, Jean-Pierre (1983). American Directors Volume II. New York: McGraw-Hill Paperbacks. p. 313. ISBN 007013264X.