Alan Ladd Jr., the Oscar-winning producer of Braveheart and longtime executive at both Fox and MGM, died on Wednesday, according to his family. He was 84.
In addition to winning the Oscar for 1995’s Best Picture winner, Braveheart, Ladd Jr. was perhaps best known as the man who greenlit Star Wars when he was an executive at 20th Century Fox.
Alan Ladd Jr. was born in Los Angeles in 1937, the son of popular Western and film noir actor Alan Ladd, who starred in George Stevens’ 1953 western Shane in the lead role, among many other notable films. Ladd Jr. first began his Hollywood career as an agent for the likes of Warren Beatty and Robert Redford in the 1960s. He then produced several films in London before becoming the Head of Creative Affairs at Fox in 1973. By 1976, Ladd Jr. was President of Fox’s film division, and he helped shepherd several classic films through development and production, including Star Wars, Alien, Young Frankenstein, The Omen, All That Jazz, and Norma Rae.
In 1979, Ladd Jr. formed his own production company, The Ladd Company, with Jay Kanter and Gareth Wigan, and they were prominently involved in many successful and acclaimed films throughout the first half of the 1980s, including Kagemusha, Body Heat, Blade Runner, Night Shift, The Right Stuff, Once Upon a Time in America, Police Academy, and 1981’s Best Picture winner, Chariots of Fire.
The Ladd Company shuttered operations in the mid-1980s, and Ladd Jr. became an executive at MGM/UA, leading to a successful tenure that included hits like Moonstruck, Spaceballs, A Fish Called Wanda, Willow, and Thelma & Louise. Then, in 1995, The Ladd Company had a major comeback with The Brady Bunch Movie and Braveheart, for which Ladd Jr. won an Oscar when the film took Best Picture. Ladd Jr. continued producing movies for another decade, including Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone.
Ladd Jr.’s half-brother, David Ladd, and his daughter, documentarian Amanda Ladd-Jones, both posted the news of his death on social media this morning. “With the heaviest of hearts, we announce that on March 2, 2022, Alan Ladd, Jr. died peacefully at home surrounded by his family,” Ladd-Jones wrote. “Words cannot express how deeply he will be missed. His impact on films and filmmaking will live on in his absence.”
“My brother, my friend, my hero, who always stood by my side,” David Ladd wrote on Facebook. “We will stand together again on the other side! I love you Laddie.”