Alan Ladd Jr., an Oscar-winning producer and former studio head best remembered for greenlighting George Lucas’ historic film “Star Wars” as a top executive at 20th Century Fox in the 1970s, died at his home in Los Angeles.
Ladd died early Wednesday, according to daughter Amanda Ladd-Jones, director of the documentary “Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies,” who wrote on the film’s Facebook page. He was 84 years old. His cause of death has not been revealed.
Ladd was the namesake of the renowned hero of the 1953 classic western “Shane,” who was once regarded as “one of Hollywood’s favourite sons.”
The modest and laconic Ladd, sometimes known as Laddie, was one of Hollywood’s most charming and regarded movie executives and producers.
Ladd, a former talent agent who became an independent producer in London in the late 1960s, joined 20th Century Fox as vice president of creative affairs in 1973. He was named president of Fox’s feature film division three years later.
Ladd reportedly jumped at the chance to work on Lucas’s next picture, “Star Wars,” after seeing an early, smuggled print of “American Graffiti,” the 1973 Universal Pictures blockbuster directed by Lucas.
“When no one else believed in me, Laddie took a chance on a young kid with a crazy idea for a science-fiction adventure — something that wasn’t quite commercial at the time,” Lucas told Variety in 2007.