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Ray Stark

From Academic Kids

Ray Stark (October 3, 1915 - January 17, 2004) was a 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 exchage 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 him that if Robertson pressed on, Begelman would commit suicide. Robertson said he would do "what a citizen should do in this situation." Begelman took his own life, and Robertson was blacklisted for 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.

Later in his career, he produced such films Annie and Steel Magnolias, with varying degrees of success.

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