June 22nd, 2024

Fred Roos, ‘Godfather Part II’ producer and longtime Coppola collaborator, dies at 89

By Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press on May 21, 2024.

Fred Roos, the Oscar-winning producer of “The Godfather Part II” who helped launch the careers of numerous superstars from Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise, has died. He was 89.

He died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday, a representative said Tuesday, just days after his and Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film ” Megalopolis “ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Roos and Coppola worked together for over 50 years starting with “The Godfather” and including best picture nominees “The Conversation” and “Apocalypse Now.”

The stories about his impact on some of the biggest films of all time, from the Godfather trilogy to “Star Wars,” are the stuff of Hollywood legend. While developing “Star Wars,” George Lucas asked Roos for his thoughts. He got the screenplay back with several names scribbled on it: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones. Roos helped assemble the young casts for “American Graffiti” and “The Outsiders,” introducing wide audiences to the likes of Cruise, Ford, Diane Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze.

Sometimes it took some convincing, like getting Ford in as Han Solo. In 2004, Ford said, “Once he believes in you, he is unrelenting. He kept putting me up for parts and I kept getting rejected. Finally things worked out.”

Roos was born in Santa Monica, California, raised in Riverside and Los Angeles, where he attended high school and the famous Hollywood High. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, he was drafted and served two tours in Korea with the Army, one alongside Garry Marshall.

He long had a fascination with film, and started in the mailroom at a talent agency, MCA, Inc, where one of his odd jobs was driving Marilyn Monroe around. He soon was casting for television shows like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “That Girl,” but would eventually find his way to film, working with the likes of John Huston (“Fat City”), Michelangelo Antonioni (“Zabriskie Point”), Monte Hellman (“Two-Lane Blacktop”) and Bob Rafelson (“Five Easy Pieces”).

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