Oscar-winning producer Alan Ladd Jr. died Wednesday at the age of 84.
Son of the legendary Alan Ladd, actor of classics of the 1940s and 1950s such as “The Tortured Soul” and “The Brutes Love It Too”, the producer was one of the most influential executives in Hollywood, responsible for launching “Star Wars” and several blockbusters that earn sequels to this day.
Ladd Jr. rarely spoke of his father, who died of apparent suicide at age 50 and was raised by his mother far from Hollywood. His first job was at his stepfather’s real estate company. But he was always a cinephile and, on a trip to London, he found an opening to invest in independent productions, releasing British films in the early 1970s: “The Price of Loving”, “The Villain”, “Unfaithful Lovers” and “Os Que Arrive With the Night”, starring Marlon Brando, which was successful in the US and took him to Los Angeles.
In 1973, he joined 20th Century Fox as vice president of production, rising to head of the production in 1974 and studio president in 1976. Although the rise was rapid, it came through decisive choices for the company, such as investing in controversial projects such as “The Omen”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Mel Brooks’s Last Madness” and “Star Wars”. This last film alone grossed $500 million on its release, a never-before-seen amount, causing Ladd to quadruple Fox’s revenue and net profits in five years—from 1974 to his departure in 1979.
The detail is that he was considered crazy for playing the vision of filmmaker George Lucas. Ladd had to put underlings in their places and antagonize the entire movie business to get approval for the production of “Star Wars,” which, with a budget of $10 million, had been turned down by every other studio as too expensive to be worth the money. risk.
History has shown who was right. The film’s release in 1977 created the era of modern blockbusters and divided cinema into before and after “Star Wars”.
Lucasfilm’s official Instagram account acknowledged the producer’s importance to the franchise in a posthumous tribute, noting that the “dear friend” “sided with George [Lucas] in those early days, and his impact on ‘Star Wars’ cannot be underestimated.”.
Affectionately known in the industry as Laddie, Alan Ladd Jr. was respected by many and disdained by others for using his taste as a factor in closing contracts, investing in visionary projects, and maintaining a discreet and cordial profile in the midst of his achievements, which set him apart. of the flamboyant, loudmouth, and harassment-sueed style that has become standard in Hollywood in recent years.
He even surprised the industry by quitting his $2 million-a-year job as head of 20th Century Fox because his team wasn’t being compensated enough for the success of blockbusters like “Star Wars” and “Alien.”
Few remember, but “Alien” was also a personal battle for Ladd, who understood the importance of turning Ripley (a male character in the original script) into a woman, in response to a change requested by the director Ridley Scott. Played by Sigourney Weaver, the character was the first modern action heroine, innovating American blockbusters.
The cause of death of Alan Ladd Jr has not come out yet, but considering his age, it is suspected to be old age-related causes.