Ross Hunter

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Ross Hunter
Born Martin Terry Fuss
(1926-05-06)May 6, 1926
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 10, 1996(1996-03-10) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality American
Education Glenville High School
Occupation Film and television producer, actor
Years active 1944–1979
Partner(s) Jaques Mapes

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.[1] He was of Austrian-Jewish and German Jewish descent.[2] Hunter attended Glenville High School where he later taught English and drama (he also taught these subjects at Rawlings High School).[2] 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.[3] It was at Columbia that a casting agent changed his name from "Martin Fuss" to "Ross Hunter".[2]

During the 1940s, Hunter acted in a number of B-movie musicals.[3] When his acting career stalled, he returned to teaching drama at the Ben Bard Dramatic School and also taught speech therapy.[4] Hunter missed working in films and decided to return to the business and focus on film production.[3] 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.[5] During production, Hunter cut $172,000 from the film's budget which pleased Universal executives who raised his salary.[3]

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, 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.[6] Throughout his career, Hunter would routinely work with many of the same actors including Day, Hudson (who was also a long-time friend), Debbie Reynolds (in the Tammy film series), Sandra Dee, Virginia Grey, and Lana Turner.[3] 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).[6]

While "Ross 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."[6] 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 remake of the 1937 film Lost Horizon. The film was a box office failure and ultimately lost $7 million.[5] It would be the last feature film Hunter produced. In 1975, he was hired by Paramount Pictures to produce for television.[7] 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.[3][6][8] He was survived by his long-time partner, set designer Jaques Mapes who was also his production partner.[9] Mapes died in May 2002.[8] Hunter is interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[1]


  • "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".[7]



Year Title Role Notes
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


Year Title Notes
1950 The Jackie Robinson Story Dialogue director
1950 Woman on the Run Dialogue director
1951 The Sword of Monte Cristo Dialogue director
1951 When I Grow Up Script supervisor
1951 Flame of Araby Associate producer
Alternative title: Flame of the Desert
1952 The Battle at Apache Pass Associate producer
1952 Steel Town Associate producer
1952 Untamed Frontier Associate producer
1952 The Duel at Silver Creek Associate producer
1952 Son of Ali Baba Associate producer
1953 Take Me to Town
1953 All I Desire
1953 Tumbleweed
1954 Taza, Son of Cochise
1954 Magnificent Obsession
1954 Naked Alibi
1954 The Yellow Mountain
1955 Captain Lightfoot
1955 One Desire
1955 All That Heaven Allows
1955 The Spoilers
1956 There's Always Tomorrow
1957 Battle Hymn
1957 Tammy and the Bachelor
1957 Interlude
1957 My Man Godfrey
1958 This Happy Feeling
1958 The Restless Years
1959 A Stranger in My Arms Alternative title: And Ride a Tiger
1959 Imitation of Life
1959 Pillow Talk
1960 Portrait in Black
1960 Midnight Lace
1961 Tammy Tell Me True
1961 Back Street
1961 Flower Drum Song
1962 If a Man Answers
1963 Tammy and the Doctor
1963 The Thrill of It All
1964 The Chalk Garden
1964 I'd Rather Be Rich
1965 The Art of Love
1966 Madame X
1966 The Pad and How to Use It
1967 Thoroughly Modern Millie
1967 Rosie!
1970 Airport Nominated: Academy Award for Best Picture
1973 Lost Horizon
1975 The Lives of Jenny Dolan Television movie
Executive producer
1976 Arthur Hailey's the Moneychangers Miniseries
Nominated: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series
1976 A Family Upside Down Television movie
1978 Suddenly, Love Television movie
1979 The Best Place to Be Television movie


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b c Show: The Magazine of the Arts. 2. MOTA Company. 1962. p. 63. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Morrison, Patt; Goldman, Abigail (March 11, 1996). "Ross Hunter, Prolific Movie Producer, Dies". Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ Current Biography Yearbook. 28. H. W. Wilson Co. 1968. p. 192. 
  5. ^ a b 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. 
  6. ^ a b c d Gussow, Mel (March 12, 1996). "Ross Hunter, Film Producer, Is Dead at 75". nytimes. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b David Shipman "Obituary: Ross Hunter", The Independent, March 13, 1996
  8. ^ a b Oliver, Myrna (May 10, 2002). "Jacques Mapes, 88; Art Director Became Producer". Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ Hofler, Robert (October 11, 2004). "Secrets and bios". The Advocate. Here Publishing (948): 76. ISSN 0001-8996. 

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