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Mel Ferrer

mel ferrer, mel ferrer biography
Melchor Gastón Ferrer1 August 25, 1917 – June 2, 2008 was an American actor, film director, a film producer and the first husband of Audrey Hepburn


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Death
  • 5 Filmography
  • 6 Radio
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 External links

Early lifeedit

Ferrer was born in the Elberon section of Long Branch, New Jersey, of Cuban and Irish descent His father, Dr José María Ferrer 1857–1920, was born in Cuba, of Spanish ancestry, and was an authority on pneumonia and served as chief of staff of St Vincent's Hospital in New York City2 His American mother, the former Mary Matilda Irene née O'Donohue; 1878–1967,3 was a daughter of coffee broker Joseph J O'Donohue, New York's City Commissioner of Parks, a founder of the Coffee Exchange, and a founder of the Brooklyn-New York Ferry An ardent opponent of Prohibition, Irene Ferrer was named, in 1934, the New York State chairman of the Citizens Committee for Sane Liquor Laws4

Ferrer had three siblings His elder sister was Dr M Irené Ferrer, a cardiologist and educator, who helped refine the cardiac catheter and electrocardiogram5 She died in 2004 in Manhattan, New York at age 89 due to pneumonia and congestive heart failure

His brother, Dr Jose M Ferrer, born 1912, was a surgeon; he died in 1982 at age 70 after an abdominal surgery complication His other sister, Teresa Terry Ferrer, was the religion editor of The New York Herald Tribune and education editor of Newsweek46 The family is not related to actors José or Miguel Ferrer

His mother's family, the O'Donohues, were prominent Roman Catholics Mel Ferrer's aunt, Marie Louise O'Donohue Mrs Joseph J O'Donohue, Jr was named a papal countess,7 and his mother's sister, Teresa Riley O'Donohue, a leading figure in American Catholic charities and welfare organizations, was granted permission by Pope Pius XI to install a private chapel in her New York City apartment8

Ferrer was privately educated at the Bovée School in New York one of his classmates was the future author Louis Auchincloss and Canterbury Prep School in Connecticut before attending Princeton University until his sophomore year, at which time he dropped out to devote more time to acting He also worked as an editor of a small Vermont newspaper and wrote a children's book, Tito's Hats Garden City Publishing, 19409


Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer on the set of War and Peace in 1955

Ferrer began acting in summer stock as a teenager and in 1937 won the Theatre Intime award for best new play by a Princeton undergraduate; the play was called Awhile to Work and co-starred another college student, Frances Pilchard, who would become Ferrer's first wife that same year10 At age twenty-one, he was appearing on the Broadway stage as a chorus dancer, making his debut there as an actor two years later After a bout with polio, Ferrer worked as a disc jockey in Texas and Arkansas and moved to Mexico to work on a novel He then was contracted to Columbia Pictures as a director along with several other "potentials" who began as dialogue directors: Fred Sears, William Castle, Henry Levin and Robert Gordon11

Eventually, he returned to Broadway, where he directed the 1946 stage production of Cyrano de Bergerac, in which Jose Ferrer no relation first appeared in the role, then became involved in motion pictures, directing more than ten feature films and acting in more than eighty As a producer, he had notable success with the well-regarded film Wait Until Dark 1967, starring Audrey Hepburn12

In 1945, Ferrer made a modest directing debut with The Girl of the Limberlost, a low-budget black-and-white film for Columbia Pictures He returned to Broadway to star in Strange Fruit, based on the novel by Lillian Smith

He made his screen acting debut in Lost Boundaries 1949 As a film actor, he might be best remembered for his roles as a cowboy in Rancho Notorious 1952 opposite Marlene Dietrich, as the injured puppeteer in the musical Lili 1953, starring Leslie Caron, as King Arthur in 1953's Knights of the Round Table, as the villainous Marquis de Maynes in Scaramouche 1952 and as Prince Andrei in War and Peace 1956, co-starring with his then-wife, Audrey Hepburn

He later had a leading role in Brannigan, a crime drama set in London that starred John Wayne He also appeared in two films with Marisol, the Spanish star: Cabriola as director and La chica del molino rojo as actor He directed Claudette Colbert in the film The Secret Fury and Hepburn in her 1959 film Green Mansions

Ferrer turned to television, doing some directing for the series The Farmer's Daughter 1963–1966 starring Inger Stevens He is remembered in television work for his role opposite Jane Wyman as Angela Channing's attorney and, briefly, her husband Phillip Erikson in Falcon Crest, as well as directing a few of that series's episodes He also played a blackmailing reporter in the Columbo episode "Requiem for a Fallen Star" starring Anne Baxter In 1979, he portrayed Dr Brogli in an episode of Return of the Saint

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Mel Ferrer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6268 Hollywood Blvd

Personal lifeedit

Ferrer was married five times His wives were:

  1. Frances Gunby Pilchard, his first and third wife, an actress who became a sculptor;13 she was the daughter of Sewell Norris Pilchard Jr, a physician, and his wife, the former Louise Collier Gunby They married in 1937, and divorced in 1939; they remarried in 1944, and divorced in 1953 They had two children: Pepa Philippa Ferrer born 1941 and Mark Young Ferrer born 1944
  2. Barbara C Tripp, they married in 1940 and later divorced They had two children: a daughter, Mela Ferrer born 1943 and a son, Christopher Ferrer born 1944
  3. Frances Gunby Pilchard, for the 2nd time
  4. Audrey Hepburn, the actress, to whom he was married from 1954 until 1968 They had one child, a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer born 1960
  5. Elizabeth Soukhotine, to whom he was married from 1971, to his death in 2008

Before his marriage to Elizabeth Soukhotine in 1971, Ferrer also had a relationship with 29-year-old interior designer Tessa Kennedy1415


A resident of Carpinteria, California, Ferrer died of heart failure at a convalescent home in Santa Barbara on June 2, 200812 He was 90 years old


As Actor:

  • The Fugitive 1947 as Father Serra uncredited
  • Lost Boundaries 1949 as Scott Mason Carter
  • Born to Be Bad 1950 as Gobby
  • The Brave Bulls 1951 as Luis Bello
  • Rancho Notorious 1952 as Frenchy Fairmont
  • Scaramouche 1952 as Noel, Marquis de Maynes
  • Lili 1953 as Paul Berthalet
  • Saadia 1953 as Henrik
  • Knights of the Round Table 1953 as Arthur
  • Proibito 1954 as Don Paolo Salinas
  • Oh Rosalinda!! 1955 as Capt Alfred Westerman
  • War and Peace 1956 as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
  • Elena and Her Men aka, Paris Does Strange Things, 1956 as Le comte Henri de Chevincourt
  • Mayerling 1957, TV film; with Audrey Hepburn as Crown Prince Rudolph
  • The Vintage 1957 as Giancarlo Barandero
  • The Sun Also Rises 1957 as Robert Cohn
  • Fräulein 1958 as Maj Foster MacLain
  • The World, the Flesh, and the Devil 1959 as Benson Thacker
  • Blood and Roses 1960 as Leopoldo De Karnstein
  • Ladies Man fr 1960 as Georges Gauthier
  • The Hands of Orlac 1960 as Stephen Orlac
  • Love, Freedom and Treachery it 1961 as Mirko
  • Charge of the Black Lancers 1962 as Andrea
  • The Devil and the Ten Commandments 1962 as Philip Allan segment "Luxurieux point ne seras"
  • The Longest Day 1962 He was originally signed to play the role of General James M Gavin but withdrew from the role due to a scheduling conflict16 as Maj General Robert Haines
  • Marco Polo 1962
  • Charade 1963 as Man smoking cigarette in nightclub uncredited
  • Paris When It Sizzles 1964 Cameo as Costume Party Jekyll & Hyde uncredited
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire 1964 as Cleander
  • Sex and the Single Girl 1964 as Rudy
  • Who Are My Own es aka El señor de La Salle, 1964 as Juan Bautista de La Salle
  • El Greco 1966 as El Greco Domenico Teotocopulo
  • Wait Until Dark 1967 voice only as French-Canadian Radio Speaker voice, uncredited
  • A Time for Loving 1972 as Dr Harrison
  • Columbo: Requiem for a falling star 1973, TV as Jerry Parks
  • Carola 1973, TV film as Gen Franz von Clodius
  • The Girl from the Red Cabaret es 1973 as Dalton Harvey
  • The Antichrist 1974 as Massimo Oderisi
  • Brannigan 1975 as Fields
  • Silent Action 1975 as District Attorney Mannino
  • The Suspicious Death of a Minor 1975 as Police superintendent
  • The Net 1975 as Aurelio Morelli
  • Alle origini della mafia it 1976, TV miniseries as Armando Della Morra
  • The Black Corsair 1976 as Van Gould
  • Eaten Alive 1977 as Harvey Wood
  • Gangbuster 1977 as Peseti, the Boss
  • The Pajama Girl Case 1977 as Professor Henry Douglas
  • Seagulls Fly Low 1978 as Roberto Micheli
  • Hi-Riders 1978 as Sheriff
  • The Norseman 1978 as King Eurich
  • Yesterday's Tomorrow aka Zwischengleis, 1978 as Colonel Stone
  • The Fifth Floor 1978 as Dr Sidney Coleman
  • L'immoralità it 1978 as Vera's husband
  • Screamers aka Island of the Fishmen, 1979 as Radcliffe US version
  • Guyana: Crime of the Century 1979 uncredited
  • The Visitor 1979 as Dr Walker
  • The Great Alligator River 1979 as Joshua
  • Eaten Alive! aka Doomed to Die, 1980 as Professor Carter
  • Top of the Hill 1980 as Andreas Heggener
  • The Memory of Eva Ryker 1980 as Dr Sanford
  • Nightmare City 1980 as Murchison
  • Lili Marleen 1981 as David Mendelsson
  • Vultures on the City fr 1981
  • Falcon Crest 1981-1984, TV series as Phillip Erikson
  • Mille milliards de dollars fr 1982 as Cornelius A Woeagen
  • Deadly Game aka Die Jäger, 1982 as Stephan Mathiesen
  • One Shoe Makes It Murder 1982, TV film as Carl Charnock
  • A Soft Sunset 1984 as Franz Bollenstein
  • Peter the Great 1986 TV miniseries as Frederick
  • Dream West 1986 TV miniseries as Judge Elkins
  • Eye of the Widow 1991 as Frankenheimer the CIA chief
  • Catherine the Great 1995 TV miniseries as Patriarch

As Director/Producer/Dialogue Coach:

  • Louisiana Hayride 1944 dialogue coach
  • They Live in Fear 1944 dialogue coach
  • Sergeant Mike 1944 dialogue coach
  • Together Again 1944 dialogue coach
  • Meet Miss Bobby Socks 1944 dialogue coach
  • Let's Go Steady 1945 dialogue coach
  • Ten Cents a Dance 1945 dialogue coach
  • Boston Blackie's Rendezvous 1945 dialogue coach
  • A Thousand and One Nights 1945 dialogue coach
  • The Girl of the Limberlost 1945 director
  • The Fugitive 1947 directorial assistant
  • The Secret Fury 1950 director
  • Vendetta 1950 uncredited director
  • The Racket 1951 uncredited director
  • Macao 1952 uncredited director
  • Green Mansions 1959 director
  • Caper es aka Cabriola, 1965 director


Year Program Episode/source
1952 Family Theater Hound of Heaven17
1953 Radio Theater Undercurrent18


  1. ^ Some sources spell his first name as MELCHIOR but this is incorrect based on Ferrer's records at Princeton University Also he was named for his paternal grandfather, Melchor Ferrer And the name MELCHOR G FERRER was used on the cover of Tito's Hats, a children's book that Ferrer wrote in 1940
  2. ^ "Dr Jose M Ferrer", Obituaries, The New York Times, 24 February 1920
  3. ^ "Weddings: Ferrer-O'Donohue", The New York Times, October 19, 1910
  4. ^ a b "Mrs JM Ferrer, Civic Leader, 89", The New York Times, February 21, 1967
  5. ^ Changing the Face of Medicine - Dr M Irené Ferrer
  6. ^ "Terry Ferrer, 82, Education Editor", The New York Times, April 1, 2002
  7. ^ "Joseph O'Donohue, Real Estate Man, Dead", The New York Times, October 31, 1937
  8. ^ "Teresa O'Donohue, Charities Worker", The New York Times, August 18, 1937
  9. ^ The book's illustrations were by Jean Charlot
  10. ^ "MG Ferrer Wins Prize Play Award", The New York Times, March 3, 1937, page 27
  11. ^ http://wwwfilmsofthegoldenagecom/articles/2008/04/29/current_issue/klinekatzmantxt
  12. ^ a b Thomas, Bob 2008-06-03 "Mel Ferrer, actor-director, husband of Audrey Hepburn, dies" Yahoo! News 
  13. ^ "Catharsis", Time, 10 February 1941
  14. ^ Paris, Barry Audrey Hepburn pp 247–248 ISBN 0-425-18212-6 
  15. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel Sex Lives of the Hollywood Goddesses Part 2 p 271 ISBN 1-85375-514-1 
  16. ^ Notre jour le plus long La Presse de la Manche 2012
  17. ^ Kirby, Walter April 20, 1952 "Better Radio Programs for the Week" The Decatur Daily Review p 46 Retrieved May 9, 2015 – via Newspaperscom 
  18. ^ Kirby, Walter November 29, 1953 "Better Radio Programs for the Week" The Decatur Daily Review p 50 Retrieved July 14, 2015 – via Newspaperscom 

External linksedit

  • Mel Ferrer, a Reluctant Movie Star, Dies at 90
  • Mel Ferrer on Internet Movie Database
  • Mel Ferrer at the TCM Movie Database
  • Profile, ibdbcom; accessed June 22, 2017

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