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Albert Ruddy, Oscar-winning producer of ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ dies at 94

NEW YORK (AP) — Albert S. Ruddy, a colorful, Canadian-born producer and writer who won Oscars for “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby,” developed the raucous prison-sports comedy “The Longest Yard” and helped create the hit sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” has died at age 94.

Ruddy died “peacefully” Saturday at the UCLA Medical Center, according to a spokesperson, who added that among his final words were, “The game is over, but we won the game.”

Tall and muscular, with a raspy voice and a city kid’s swagger, Ruddy produced more than 30 movies and was on hand for the very top and very bottom, from the “Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” to “Cannonball Run II” and “Megaforce,” nominees for Golden Raspberry awards for worst movie of the year.

Otherwise, he had a mix of successes such as “The Longest Yard,” which he produced and created the story for, and such flops as the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller “Sabotage.” He worked often with Burt Reynolds, starting with “The Longest Yard” and continuing with two “Cannonball Run” comedies and “Cloud Nine.” Besides “Hogan’s Heroes,” his television credits include the movies “Married to a Stranger” and “Running Mates.”

Nothing looks better on your resume than “The Godfather,” but producing it endangered Ruddy’s job, reputation and his very life. Frank Sinatra and other Italian Americans were infuriated by the project, which they feared would harden stereotypes of Italians as criminals, and real-life mobsters let Ruddy know he was being watched. One night he heard gunfire outside his home and the sound of his car’s windows being shot out.

On his dashboard was a warning that he should close the production, immediately.

Ruddy saved himself, and the film, through diplomacy; he met with crime boss Joseph Colombo and a couple of henchmen to discuss the script.

“Joe sits opposite me, one guy’s on the couch, and one guy’s sitting in the window,” Ruddy told Vanity Fair in 2009. “He puts on his little Ben Franklin glasses, looks at it (the script) for about two minutes. What does this mean “fade in?” he asked.'”


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