|Born||Martin Terry Fuss
May 6, 1926
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||March 10, 1996
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Education||Glenville High School|
|Occupation||Film and television producer, actor|
Ross Hunter (May 6, 1926 – March 10, 1996) was an American film and television producer and actor. Hunter is best known for producing light comedies such as Pillow Talk (1959), and the glamorous melodramas Magnificent Obsession (1954), Imitation of Life (1959), and Back Street (1961).
Hunter was born Martin Terry Fuss in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1926. He was of Austrian-Jewish and German Jewish descent. Hunter attended Glenville High School where he later taught English and drama (he also taught these subjects at Rawlings High School). During World War II, he worked in United States Army Intelligence. After his time in the Army, he returned to his job as a drama teacher. He eventually moved to Los Angeles after his students sent his photo to Paramount Pictures. Paramount Pictures passed on signing him to a contract and he subsequently signed with Columbia Pictures. It was at Columbia that a casting agent changed his name from "Martin Fuss" to "Ross Hunter".
During the 1940s, Hunter acted in a number of B-movie musicals. When his acting career stalled, he returned to teaching drama at the Ben Bard Dramatic School and also taught speech therapy. Hunter missed working in films and decided to return to the business and focus on film production. During the late 1940s, Hunter enrolled at the Motion Picture Center Studio where he was trained in film production. In 1951, Universal-International hired him as a producer for the film Flame of Araby, starring Jeff Chandler and Maureen O'Hara. During production, Hunter cut $172,000 from the film's budget which pleased Universal executives who raised his salary.
In 1953, Universal-International hired Hunter as staff producer on the strength of his previous credits as a theatrical producer and director. Over the course of his career, Hunter produced films of various genres but found his greatest success with light-hearted comedies and musicals and melodramatic "tear jerkers" that were high on romance and glamour. His first success was the 1954 film remake of the 1935 film Magnificent Obsession, starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. In 1959, he produced the hit comedy Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Throughout his career, Hunter would routinely work with many of the same actors including Doris Day, Rock Hudson (who was also a long-time friend), Debbie Reynolds (in the Tammy film series), Sandra Dee, Virginia Grey, and Lana Turner. He also became known for his penchant for producing remakes of hit films including Magnificent Obsession (1954), The Spoilers (1955), My Man Godfrey (1957), Imitation of Life (1959), Back Street (1961), Madame X (1966).
While "Russ Hunter movies" were a hit with audiences, his work was largely dismissed by critics. Hunter later said, "I gave the public what they wanted: a chance to dream, to live vicariously, to see beautiful women, jewels, gorgeous clothes, melodrama." In 1970, he had a major box office hit with Airport which also earned him a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. In 1973, Hunter produced the 1973 remake of the 1937 film Lost Horizon. The film was a box office failure and ultimately lost $7 million. It would be the last feature film Hunter produced. In 1975, he was hired by Paramount Pictures to produce for television. In 1977, he was nominated a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series for producing Arthur Hailey's the Moneychangers (he shared the nomination with his long-time professional and personal partner, Jaques Mapes). His last project was the 1979 television movie The Best Place to Be.
Hunter died of cancer at the Century City Hospital in Los Angeles on March 10, 1996. He was survived by his long-time partner, set designer Jaques Mapes who was also his production partner. Mapes died in May 2002. Hunter is interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
- "The way life looks in my pictures is how I want life to be. I don't want to hold a mirror up to life as it is".
|1944||Louisiana Hayride||Gordon Pearson|
|1944||Ever Since Venus||Bradley Miller|
|1944||She's a Sweetheart||Paul|
|1945||A Guy, a Gal and a Pal||Jimmy Jones|
|1944||Hit the Hay||Ted Barton|
|1945||Out of the Depths||Clayton Shepherd|
|1946||The Bandit of Sherwood Forest||Robin Hood's Man||Uncredited|
|1946||Sweetheart of Sigma Chi||Ted Sloan|
|1951||The Groom Wore Spurs||Austin Tindale||Uncredited|
|1956||There's Always Tomorrow||Cameo appearance||Uncredited|
- Staggs, Sam (2010). Born to Be Hurt: The Untold Story of Imitation of Life. St. Martin's Press. p. 230. ISBN 0-312-37336-8.
In 1984, when Ross did an oral history with Ronald Davis, of Southern Methodist University, he attached this addendum to the legal agreements page, written in his own hand: 'I'd like to set the record straight as to birth date - which is all over the place in 20 different versions. Born in Cleveland, Ohio-on May 6, 1929. Real name is Martin Terry Fuss.' And yet, on his crypt in Westwood Memorial Park, the dates are 1920-1996.
- Show: The Magazine of the Arts. 2. MOTA Company. 1962. p. 63.
- Morrison, Patt; Goldman, Abigail (March 11, 1996). "Ross Hunter, Prolific Movie Producer, Dies". latimes.com. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
- Current Biography Yearbook. 28. H. W. Wilson Co. 1968. p. 192.
- Dick, Bernard F. (1997). City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures. University Press of Kentucky. p. 154. ISBN 0-813-17004-4.
- Gussow, Mel (March 12, 1996). "Ross Hunter, Film Producer, Is Dead at 75". nytimes. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
- David Shipman "Obituary: Ross Hunter", The Independent, March 13, 1996
- Oliver, Myrna (May 10, 2002). "Jacques Mapes, 88; Art Director Became Producer". latimes.com. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
- Hofler, Robert (October 11, 2004). "Secrets and bios". The Advocate. Here Publishing (948): 76. ISSN 0001-8996.