Noel Marshall

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Noel Marshall
Marshall, circa 1970
Born(1931-04-18)April 18, 1931
Chicago, Illinois, US
DiedJune 30, 2010(2010-06-30) (aged 79)
OccupationTalent agent, producer, director
Known forRoar

Noel Marshall (April 18, 1931 – June 30, 2010) was an American agent,[1] co-producer, brief director, and actor. He moved to Hollywood, California in his 20s and began investing in the production of a handful of films, including William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.

In the 70s, Marshall and his family, which included his wife, Tippi Hedren, and step-daughter, Melanie Griffith, began production on Roar, which is notorious for taking 11 years to make and was an accident-ridden production due to the many injuries sustained and damages caused on-set. Around 70 people were injured during the making of the film, and it later received the tagline "The most dangerous movie ever made".

Life and career[edit]

Marshall was born in Chicago, Illinois. He had developed an interest in animals when he was working a summer job at the St. Louis Zoo. He moved to Hollywood in his 20s so that he could work in television.[2] As an agent, one of his clients was William Peter Blatty, who would later write the novel The Exorcist. Blatty made a deal with producer Paul Monash to team up for the film adaptation, but they had arguments over plot changes, so Monash left and Marshall was made executive producer. He was also executive producer for Mr. Kingstreet's War, and The Harrad Experiment (both 1973).[2]


As director, Marshall wrote, co-produced, and starred in the film Roar (1981), which revolved around big cats and featured actress Tippi Hedren, his stepdaughter Melanie Griffith, and his sons, John and Jerry. The idea for the film happened when Hedren finished filming Mr. Kingstreet's War in Africa. Both Marshall and Hedren saw a game warden's house in Zimbabwe overrun by lions, and learned about awareness for endangered animal and big cat species. The two conceived an idea for a film that the family could be a part of, which would center around many African cats.[3] Marshall gave the film a working title, which was Lions, Lions and More Lions.[4] Marshall and Hedren approached animal trainers for support on the training of numerous big cats, and were told the idea was impossible, dismissing them both as "brainsick" and "completely and utterly insane."[5]

Production started in Santa Monica, California in 1976; shooting for the film was scheduled to last six months but would instead take 11 years.[6][7] During that time, Marshall and his family began housing lions first at his Sherman Oaks home, a property he bought in Santa Clarita, and later in Acton, California.[8][9] The animal cast eventually reached to 132 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, and jaguars.[7] Roar was accident-ridden due to the injuries inflicted on the cast and crew that were caused by the animals. Over 70 people are believed to have been injured, giving the film the title of the "most dangerous movie ever made".[10] Marshall's attacks from the lions during scenes were life-threatening; his wounds from the scratches and lion bites became infected and later gave him gangrene.[11] It took him years to recover from the injuries he sustained on-set.[6] Other accidents included a flood from a broken dam, a fire, destroyed equipment, financial issues, and a feline virus which plagued most of the big cats.[8]

Marshall used the proceeds from his executive position on The Exorcist to help fund the film, leading some of the crew to believe it was plagued by the "curse of The Exorcist" due to its financial association.[5][12] After two years of production, most of the financiers had already pulled their money out.[13][5] The finances restricted Marshall and his family from paying the animal's food bills and paying for the damages caused became a burden; investors gave payments of up to $1 million, but this barely paid back the debt. This resulted in their four houses being sold in order to pay the debt, and the entire production crew was fired to compensate for the losses.[8] Marshall and Hedren decided to continue the production and rebuilt the sets that had been destroyed, and hired many different crew members to finish the film.[5] The film's budget thus increased due to the issues and cost $17 million altogether. When it finally released outside of the U.S. in 1981 it received negative reviews and brought in $2 million[N 1] worldwide.[14] It was screened for only a week in theaters.[9][15]

After the filming of Roar, the big cats used were moved to the Shambala Preserve, established by Hedren.[8]

Later life[edit]

A later film where Marshall was also credited as producer was A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988), starring River Phoenix,[16] though he never directed or acted in another film again.[11] He left show business to run marketing for an HMO in Florida. The Daily Beast reports that he was working on a film script before his death.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Marshall and his first wife, Jaye Joseph Marshall, started a talent agency together. They divorced, and Marshall married Tippi Hedren in 1964, previously having been her agent and manager.[2][18]

I would try to be in the scenes with Tippi and Melanie, because they felt better when I was nearby. We grouped together as a family. Not that we thought dad was really trying to kill us, but it really seemed like he was out for us for some reason.[19]

John Marshall, son of Noel Marshall and actor in Roar

After production of Roar, Marshall and Hedren divorced in 1982.[8] Marshall's son John confirmed that this was due to the events that happened during production.[19] He reflected on numerous incidents, including Marshall's treatment of Griffith. He recalled that the cast had safewords when the scene became too risky, but when Griffith used hers, Marshall did not listen and kept the scene going.[17] In a 2015 interview with Xfinity, he made a link between the treatment of the family during filming as the reason behind the divorce. John also said that behind the scenes, Marshall once hit him for standing up to him, and would simply tell Griffith not to be afraid of the lions instead of taking action to protect her.[19] Marshall was labeled "intense" by John, as he would often become angry on-set of the film and would shout at the cast, crew, and animal handlers when a take was ruined. John explained that he would do so because the disruption halted the scenes that mostly relied on waiting for the animals to do something that could be included in the film.[17]

Marshall died of cancer on June 30, 2010 in Santa Monica, California.[18]


Year Film Credited as Role Notes
Director Producer Screenwriter Other
1965 I'll Bet No No No Yes Himself
1971 Mister Kingstreet's War No Executive No No
1973 The Harrad Experiment No Executive No No
1973 The Exorcist No Executive No No
1981 Roar Yes Yes Yes Actor Hank
1988 A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon No Executive No No



  1. ^ John Marshall disputes this, and says that "$2 million is a long way off". He also claims that Noel said the movie made $10 million.[8]


  1. ^ "Myra/Raquel: The Predator of Hollywood". Time. November 28, 1969. Retrieved December 1, 2008.(subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c "Obituary: Noel Marshall, film director and producer". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. July 17, 2010. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "1969 – Tippi Hedren". Parque Nacional da Gorongosa. Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ Frye, Carrie (October 19, 2012). "How To Get Your Lion Back When It Runs Away: Life Lessons From Tippi Hedren". The Awl. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Stobezki, Jon (February 19, 2015). "Utterly Terrifying ROAR, Starring Tippi Hedren And Melanie Griffith, Joins Pride Of Drafthouse Films". Birth.Movies.Death. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Lumenick, Lou (April 11, 2015). "Son of 'Roar' director: 'He was a f—ing a–hole' for making us do the movie". New York Post. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Collis, Clark (April 15, 2015). "Fifty Shades of Grrrrrr: The insane story of 'Roar'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Pappademas, Alex (April 17, 2015). "'We'd All Been Bitten, and We Kept Coming Back': 'Roar' Star John Marshall on Making the Most Dangerous Movie of All Time". Grantland. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Worden, Leon (March 6, 2005). "SCV Newsmaker of the Week: Tippi Hedren". SCV Press Club.
  10. ^ Bahr, Lindsey (April 16, 2015). "'Roar': "Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made" Charges Into Theaters". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Bealmear, Bart (April 14, 2015). "'Roar': Cast and crew risked life and limb in the most dangerous movie ever made, 1981". Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  12. ^ Schmidlin, Charlie (April 6, 2015). "70 People Were Harmed in the Making of This Film". Vice. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  13. ^ Buder, Emily (July 7, 2015). "'Holy F*cking Sh*t' Discovery of 'Roar,' the Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made". IndieWire. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  14. ^ Weinburg, Scott (February 24, 2015). "Forgotten Cult Classic ROAR is Back — and It's Freaking Wild!". Nerdist. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  15. ^ Dirks, Tim. "Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops: The Most Notable Examples". Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  16. ^ "Noel Marshall". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c Yamato, Jen (April 11, 2015). "'Roar': The Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Engagement: Tippi Hedren & Noel Marshall, 1964". SCVTV. February 1, 2001.
  19. ^ a b c Onda, David (July 9, 2015). "The Unbelievable True Stories Behind 'Roar,' the Most Dangerous Film Ever Made". Xfinity. Movies. Comcast. Retrieved June 17, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hammer, Joshua. (December 1, 2008). A shadowy figure says he was Frances Farmer's lover, but a lawsuit claims different. People Weekly. Volume 19. pp. 38–40. Retrieved 1 December 2008.

External links[edit]