Edward Nassour

Active - 1949 - 1956  |   Born - Apr 7, 1911   |   Genres - Adventure, Comedy

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Edward Nassour was a movie and television producer who, in partnership with his brother William, owned a studio named for the family. He was born in 1911, the youngest of nine surviving children in a large Lebanese family in Colorado Springs, CO, and raised in that city. In an interview in Filmfax magazine in winter 2008, his son, Edward Nassour Jr., explained his father's interest in movies as dating at least back to childhood, when he was given a 16 mm movie camera. He made movies using his siblings and friends as actors. The Nassour family was extremely well off, their wealth derived from a soap company based in Los Angeles. By the time he was in his late twenties, Edward Nassour and brother William Nassour had started a small studio of their own. The death of their father in 1944 left all of the siblings a large amount of money, which Edward and William put into a much larger production facility. They became a very busy studio for various independent producers, includingPine-Thomas Productions, Sam Bischoff, and actor-turned-director Paul Henreid, and among those who kept offices at the studio was Orson Welles; Nassour himself was personally involved in the production of Africa Screams (1949), an independent feature starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello with a kind of all-star supporting cast, including then-current and then-future Three Stooges members Shemp Howard and Joe Besser, as well as Hillary Brooke and Max and Buddy Baer, and real-life adventurers Clyde Beatty and Frank Buck.

Nassour was an active studio chief and tried to sign up talent in the manner of the majors -- according to his son in Filmfax, he even attempted (without success) to get a young Marlon Brando under contract while the latter was doing A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. (Brando's early film contract situation was always a little sketchy -- apparently he had been signed to do Knock on Any Door in 1947, when the death of original producer Mark Hellinger delayed the project and ended the actor's involvement.) And among those who were partners in the studio was Donald Crisp, one of the most financially well set up and influential actors in Hollywood.

The studio remained active across the 1950s, by which time a lot of television series were using its facilities, including Andy's Gang. In the middle of the decade, Nassour released the movie for which he is probably best remembered as a producer, The Beast of Hollow Mountain, starring Guy Madison and Patricia Medina, with stop-motion animation by Willis O'Brien. A mixture of Western and dinosaur movie shot in color and widescreen, the movie has delighted baby boomers for decades with its mix of fantasy and adventure. Legendary stop-motion animator Willis O'Brien wrote the story, but most of the animation work was apparently the work of Henry Lion. Nassour was also the producer, with his brother William, of an animated featurette called "Emilio and His Magical Bull," which had been based on an O'Brien-authored short story called "Ring Around Saturn," which was tied up in litigation over its story rights for years. Nassour passed away in 1962, at the age of 51, and never saw the animated short subject's release. His son Edward Jr. (born in 1947) entered the film industry as an editor in the late '60s and retired as a studio executive at 20th Century Fox at the start of the 21st century.