His Life Was Threatened While Producing The Godfather

Albert Ruddy's last words: 'The game is over, but we won the game'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 28, 2024 4:38 PM CDT
Godfather Producer Albert Ruddy Dead at 94
Producer Albert S. Ruddy accepts the Oscar for best picture for "The Godfather" at the 45th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 27, 1973.   (AP Photo, File)

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." More, from the AP:

  • 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. Ruddy agreed to remove a single, gratuitous mention of the word "mafia" and to make a donation to the Italian American Civil Rights League. Colombo was so pleased that he urged Ruddy to appear with him at a press conference announcing his approval of the movie.
  • Born in Montreal in 1930, Albert Stotland Ruddy moved to the US as a child and was raised in New York City. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he was working as an architect when he met TV actor Bernard Fein in the early 1960s. Ruddy had tired of his career, and he and Fein decided to develop a TV series, even though neither had done any writing.
  • Their original idea was a comedy set in an American prison, but they soon changed their minds. "We read in the paper that ... (a) network was doing a sitcom set in an Italian prisoner of war camp and we thought, 'Perfect,'" Ruddy later explained. "We rewrote our script and set it in a German POW camp in about two days." Starring Bob Crane as the wily Col. Hogan, Hogan's Heroes ran from 1965-71 on CBS.
(Fred Roos, who produced the two Godfather sequels, died earlier this month.)

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