Actor, ‘Monster’ Producer Was 91

Mark Damon, who starred in Vincent Price’s horror classic House of Usher and spaghetti westerns before revolutionizing the foreign film sales and distribution sector and producing feature films, including 9 1/2 weeks, Monster And Lone Survivor, is dead. He was 91 years old.

Damon died Sunday of natural causes in Los Angeles, said his daughter, Alexis Damon Ribaut. The Hollywood Reporter.

Damon spent the first 20 years of his career as an actor, including a dozen as the lead actor in Italian action films, before moving into the business world.

He quickly found success as an executive producer with two films written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen: the German-language World War II drama. The start (1981), which received six Academy Award nominations, and The never-ending story (1984), a big-budget fantasy film featuring music commissioned by Damon from Giorgio Moroder for non-German audiences.

He shared an Independent Spirit Award with director Patty Jenkins and others for Monster (2003), starring Charlize Theron in an Oscar-winning role as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

Damon produced or produced approximately five dozen feature films during his career, including Adrian Lyne. 9 1/2 weeks (1986), John Badham Short circuit (1986), by Joël Schumacher The Lost Boys (1987), Stalingrad (1993), The jungle Book (1994), Trey Parker Orgazmo (1997), A dog of Flanders (1999), The positive side of anger (2005), Baltasar Kormákur 2 cannons (2013), Peter Berg Lone Survivor (2013), The last complete measurement (2019) and Willy’s Wonderland (2021).

Born Alan Harris in Chicago on April 22, 1933, Damon attended Fairfax High School and UCLA in Los Angeles, studied acting with Lee Strasberg and Sanford Meisner, and roomed with Jack Nicholson.

He had a big year as an actor in 1956, appearing on CBS. Alfred Hitchcock presents and in the movies Inside Detroit, Screaming Eagles and that of Richard Fleischer Between heaven and hell.

He achieved leading man status with Young and dangerous (1957) and The revellers (1958) – both opposite Connie Stevens – more Life begins at 17 (1958), This rebellious race (1960) then AIP House of Usher (1960), from producer-director Roger Corman.

For his portrayal of a woman’s fiancé (Myrna Fahey) whose demented brother (Price) desperately tries to stop them from getting married, Damon received a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer.

At 28, he went to Italy and starred in westerns. “I was surprised, because I had never ridden a horse in my life,” he said in a 2014 interview. “Cowboys had to be tall and blond, and I’m not that tall. I had really dark hair at the time, but they were like, “It doesn’t matter.” You are American. I said OK and learned to ride.

He played in Italy in the film by Sergio Corbucci The shortest day (1963), Mario Bava Black Sabbath (1963), Cleopatra’s son (1964), Secret Agent 777 (1965), Ringo and his golden gun (1966), Johnny Yuma (1966), A train to Durango (1968), The young, the wicked and the wild (1968), Gun Wrap Preacher (1971), Crypt of the Undead (1973) and Bang and the angels sing (1974).


Mark Damon in 1966’s “Ringo and the Golden Gun”

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

As Damon found himself typecast and westerns became stale, he quit acting to find something else to do, and in 1975 he took a job with an Italian film distributor that paid him $1,000 a month. “They really wanted me because they thought I knew everyone in Hollywood and could get them bigger pictures,” he said.

At the time, major American studios handled foreign sales, but he believed local companies could get more revenue from films.

“An independent distributor abroad who invests his own money in a film, is going to fight much harder, not only in the key cities but also in the provinces, to make that film happen, because he has his own money in game,” he told producer/podcaster Matthew Helderman in 2020. “The major labels have their employees who only care about their salary. »

Damon said it took him about seven years before he finally proved that independents could do better than studios.

He returned to the United States in 1977 and founded the production and sales company Producers Sales Organization. Following The start And The never-ending storyPSO handled foreign sales for Martin Scorsese The king of comedy (1982) and Once upon a time in America (1984).

After PSO’s bankruptcy, he, Jon Peters and Peter Guber founded Vision International in 1987, which was eventually sold to Crédit Lyonaisse. In 1993, Damon launched the production, sales and distribution company MDP Worldwide, which went public; a decade later, it became Media 8 Entertainment, then filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

In 1980, he was a founder of the American Film Marketing Association, now known as the Independent Film & Television Alliance, and he published a book, From cowboy to tycoon to monster: the never-ending story of cinema pioneer Mark DamonIn 2008.

Besides his daughter, survivors include his second wife, actress Margaret Markov, whom he married in October 1976 – they first met when she was starring in The arena (1974), which he produced with Corman – his son Jonathan; and his son-in-law, Mathieu.

“My claim to fame will be that, coming from an acting background, I became what they call the godfather of independent films. The one who invented the business of selling abroad. The one who invented ways to finance movies,” Damon said in Luke Ford’s 2004 book, Producers: frustrated profiles.

“How did anyone do what I did?” Because I didn’t know any better. I came in with such a new point of view because I had been an actor and I didn’t know anything.

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News Source : www.hollywoodreporter.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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