Lawrence Turman, Oscar-nominated producer of 'The Graduate', dies at 96

Lawrence Turman, Oscar-nominated producer of ‘The Graduate’, dies at 96

Lawrence Turman, the principal Oscar-nominated producer of Graduation who was behind other movies including The Great White Hope, Nice poison, American history X and the last movie Judy Garland ever made is dead. She was 96 years old.

Turman died Saturday at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, his family announced.

A former agent, he and producer David Foster began a 20-year partnership in 1974, and the first film released by the Turman Foster Co. was Stuart Rosenberg The drowning pool (1975), with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

They separated in 1991 when Turman left to start an association heading up the esteemed Peter Stark Producing Program at USC, which lasted until his retirement in 2021.

However, Turman was not done producing, and in 1996 he and John Morrissey launched the Turman-Morrissey Co., which starred Jamie Foxx Booty call (1997); by Tony Kaye American history X (1998), starring Edward Norton in an Academy Award nomination as a neo-Nazi; and comedy LL Cool J Kingdom come (2001).

Turman has also directed two feature films, both of which he also produced: The wedding of a young stockbroker (1971), with Richard Benjamin, e Afterthoughts (1983), with Lucie Arnaz.

Turman has produced more than 30 feature films and nearly a dozen TV series during his career. “I start every single film project I work on; most of them wouldn’t have seen the light of day if I hadn’t set out to make them,” he wrote in his 2005 book, So you want to be a producer. “I’m the starter and also the finisher.”

A Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame inductee, Turman knew that someone in his profession should never spend their own money to make a film, but that’s exactly what he did in 1963, shelling out over $1,000 for the option Graduation after reading a review of Charles Webb’s first novel in The New York Times.

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He needed a director next and focused on Mike Nichols; Elaine May’s former comedy partner had never directed a film, but was coming off a long Broadway run with Neil Simon Barefoot in the parkwith Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley.

“Mike Nichols was an intuitive insight,” Turman said Vanity Fair in 2008. “Webb’s book is funny but biting. Nichols and May’s humor seemed like a good match for me.

He told Nichols, “I have the book, but I have no money. I don’t have a studio. I have nothing, so let’s do it. We’re going to make this movie together and whatever money comes in, we’re going to split 50-50. The director signed on right away.

After being rejected by every major studio for two years, Nichols had directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and received an Oscar nomination in the process: Turman financed Embassy Pictures’ Joseph E. Levine Graduation after promising he could make it for $1 million.

When Turman and Nichols weren’t happy with Calder Willingham’s too dark script, they gave the inexperienced Buck Henry a chance.

Nichols then cast the unknown Dustin Hoffman as a recent college graduate who is having an affair with the wife of his father’s business partner, and Graduationwhich ultimately cost $3 million, grossed $35 million in its first six months to become the top-grossing film of 1967.

He’s been nominated for seven Academy Awards, but only Nichols has won. (Lost Best Picture contest for In the heat of the night.)

“I became famous after that Graduation for about 20 minutes”, Turman She said in a 2017 interview. “It’s nice to have a better table at a restaurant, but that basically doesn’t motivate me.

“I never even thought about fame. I was inundated with phone calls, letters and scripts after the success of the film. This is Hollywood. Fame is ephemeral and gives us life. I was asked to run some studios, be the head of production. But it lasted almost a year, then the next flavor producer of the month would arrive.

Born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles on November 28, 1926, Turman graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he was the newspaper’s basketball and sports editor, and from UCLA. He spent two years in the US Navy as an enlisted man, then went to work for his father in the textile business, even though he always wanted to be a Hollywood producer.

“Everyone always says how tough show business is,” said Turman Vanity Fair, “and, of course, they’re right, but that’s boyish stuff compared to the clothing business, where someone will cut your heart out for a quarter of a cent a yard. I’d bring bolts of fabric five blocks after making a sale, only to find that the customer had bought it cheaper, and I had to take the bolts back to my father’s office.

After interviews with producers Jerry Wald and David Lewis and agent Sam Jaffe went nowhere, Turman blindly answered an ad Variety and was hired at the Kurt Frings Agency for $50 a week. Eventually he became an agent, representing Joan Fontaine and Alan J. Pakula, among others. (He once brought four clients to Alfred Hitchcock From north to northwest.)

During his four years as an agent, “I was a sponge; I absorbed it all,” she wrote in the book about him. “I learned who is who and how Hollywood works. I met everyone I could, which ended up being helpful in ways I didn’t imagine at the time.

Left the agency after receiving an offer to produce the Fredric March-Ben Gazzara melodrama with Stuart Millar The Young Doctors (1961).

They also worked together on I could keep singing (1963), with the troubled Garland in her last film—Turman called her a “giver of gray hair”—Susan Hayward’s Stolen hours (1963) and Gore Vidal’s political drama The best man (1964), starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson, before Turman dissolved the partnership.

While trying to get Graduation together, he produced that of Irvin Kershner The Flim-Flam man (1967), with George C. Scott, followed by Lorenzo Semple, written by Lorenzo Semple Nice poison (1968), with Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld, and the film version of The Great White Hope (1970), starring the Broadway production, James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.

Turman first met Foster when she hired him as a publicist Graduationand the two have enjoyed a fruitful partnership, with films including Heroes (1977), Caveman (1981), by John Carpenter The thing (1982), Run away scared (1986), Short circuit (1986), Shimmering the Cube (1989) and The Wild River (1994).

“Larry is the opera and the symphony”, Foster said THE Los Angeles Times in 1994. “I like going to the football game and yelling and carrying on.”

Turman wrote in his book: “We were complementary, not supplementary. He gravitated towards action and size- Run away scared and the remake (1994) of The escape – while I have always been drawn to more intimate and emotional stories such as (1984) Mass appeal or (80s) Gift. I felt my strength was in the writing and editing, while his was in marketing and relationships ”.

He and Morrissey worked together at Rastar Pictures before setting up their own shop.

Survivors include his sons, John, a co-writer of Hulk (2003) and Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007); Andrew, camera operator and director of photography; and Peter; daughters-in-law Analuisa, Nancy and Sheri; grandchildren Audrey, Carter, Georgia and Olivia; and granddaughters Katherine (a journalist) and Suzanna.

A service will be held at the Motion Picture home on a date to be determined. A donation in his name may be made to the Larry Turman Endowed Fund for the Peter Stark program — USC School of Motion Picture Arts.

As a producer, Turman “believed strongly in writers and enjoyed working with them, respecting their core value,” his family noted.

“He has maintained many friendships with some of the greats. Correspondence from him shows a back and forth with friend William Goldman as Turman was trying to get Graduation done and Goldman was typing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, each in their own way trying to capture the voice of their generation. Initially planning to produce Butch CassidyTurman backed off so Goldman could get the attachments to make the film with Newman and Redford.

“His passing marks a truly golden era of Hollywood cinema.”