Ray Stark  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ray Stark (October 3, 1915 – January 17, 2004) was an American film producer and powerbroker known for his Machiavellian ways.

While putting together the Broadway musical Funny Girl - the highly fictionalized account of the life of his mother-in-law, Fanny Brice - its producer David Merrick took Stark and his wife to see an unknown singer perform at the Bon Soir in Greenwich Village. At first, the Starks balked at using Barbra Streisand, but settled for her when they couldn't get Eydie Gorme or Carol Burnett and their initial choice, Anne Bancroft, pulled out.

Stark forced Streisand to sign a four-picture deal with his Rastar Productions in exchange for reprising Brice. They collaborated on The Owl and the Pussycat (1970), The Way We Were (1973) and Funny Lady (1975), but there was obvious bitterness: after Funny Lady wrapped, Streisand gave Stark an antique mirror on which she wrote in lipstick, "Paid in full."

Stark was the power behind the throne at Columbia Pictures in the 1970s and 80s. In 1977, when actor Cliff Robertson started an investigation which revealed that Columbia President David Begelman had forged checks, Stark told Robertson to not press on. Robertson said he would do "what a citizen should do in this situation," and Robertson was blacklisted for two years. The story is detailed in David McClintick's Indecent Exposure: a True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street.

He received the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1980 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Later in his career, he produced such films as Annie and Steel Magnolias, with varying degrees of success.

Ray Stark and his wife Frances owned Rancho Corral de Quati, a Template:Convert ranch in Los Olivos, California and were breeders of Thoroughbred racehorses.

On his death in 2004, Ray Stark was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Following his death a large part of his modern sculpture collection was given to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Ray and Fran Stark Sculpture Garden opened in 2007 and accounts for approximately 75% of the sculptures in the museums collection.


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