Al Ruddy, Oscar-Winning Producer of ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Cocreator, Dies at 94

He also won an Academy Award for producing “Million Dollar Baby”

Al Ruddy
Al Ruddy (Courtesy of Patricola Public Relations)

Al Ruddy, winner of Academy Awards for producing “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” and cocreator of the CBS hit “Hogan’s Heroes,” has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 94.

Ruddy died peacefully on May 25 at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center following a brief illness, his family said via a publicist. He holds the distinction of the longest interval between Oscar wins – 32 years between “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” – and is one of only nine producers to twice win Best Picture trophies.

Ruddy created “Hogan’s Heroes” with Bernie Fein after seeing what a neighbor’s comedy script sold for – and thought he could write something funnier. The show, centered on American POWs held in WWII Nazi Germany, ran for six seasons from 1965 until 1971.

The show was a huge hit – but Ruddy turned his attention to movies, producing his first feature “Wild Seed” and gaining a reputation in subsequent projects for coming in under budget. That caught the eye of Paramount head Charles Bludhorn, who assigned him to “The Godfather.”

“Al Ruddy was absolutely beautiful to me the whole time on ‘The Godfather;’ even when they didn’t want me, he wanted me,” Al Pacino once said. “He gave me the gift of encouragement when I needed it most and I’ll never forget it.”

Ruddy’s contributions to “The Godfather” – as its sole producer – are chronicled in “The Offer,” in which Miles Teller plays the producer.

“Al was truly one of the great Hollywood mavericks,” “The Offer” director Dexter Fletcher said. “One of the last Mohicans who created great movies which still influence and inspire to this day. From humble beginnings to the highest of Hollywood accolades. His was an incredible journey.”

His Oscar for “The Godfather” was presented to Ruddy by Clint Eastwood, who would collaborate with the producer more than 30 years later on “Million Dollar Baby.”

“He was a great friend of mine and I will deeply miss him,” Eastwood said of Ruddy’s passing.

Ruddy was also close with Burt Reynolds, with whom he produced “The Longest Yard” and “Cannonball Run” films, directed by longtime friend Hal Needham.

Ruddy also cocreated the TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Martial Law” and “How the West Was Won,” and has dozens of film credits including “Ladybugs,” “Bad Girls,” “Farewell to the Kings” and his final film, the 2021 Clint Eastwood collaboration “Cry Macho.”

Ruddy was married for 43 years to Wanda McDaniel, a former journalist-turned Giorgio Armani fashion executive who is credited with pioneering the modern red carpet. He is survived by McDaniel, son John, daughter Alexandra and son-in-law Abdullah Saeed.

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