Mel Ferrer

Active - 1945 - 1995  |   Born - Aug 25, 1917 in Elberon, New Jersey, United States  |   Died - Jun 2, 2008   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Romance

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Biography by Rovi

Mel Ferrer dropped out of Princeton University in his sophomore year to become an actor in summer stock; meanwhile he worked as an editor for a small Vermont newspaper and wrote a children's book. He debuted on Broadway in 1938 as a chorus dancer; two years later, he made his debut as an actor. A bout with polio interrupted his career and lead him to work in radio, first as a small-station disc jockey and later as a writer, producer, and director of radio shows for NBC. Having not acted in any films, Ferrer directed his first movie, The Girl of the Limberlost, in 1945; the year in which he also returned to Broadway. After assisting John Ford on the film The Fugitive (1947), he debuted onscreen in Lost Boundaries (1949). Ferrer went on to appear in numerous movies, where he was usually cast as a sensitive, quiet, somewhat stiff leading man; his best-known role was as the lame puppeteer in Lili (1953). He continued to direct films, most of which were unexceptional, then began producing in the late '60s. Since 1960 he has worked primarily in Europe, appearing infrequently in American film and TV productions. His third wife was actress Audrey Hepburn, whom he directed in Green Mansions (1959). He later produced her film Wait Until Dark (1967).

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  • First Broadway appearance was as a chorus dancer in 1938's You Never Know; returned to star in Strange Fruit in 1945.
  • Wrote a children's book titled Tito's Hats in 1940; later worked as a book and newspaper editor.
  • Made his feature directing debut in 1945 with the drama The Girl of the Limberlost.
  • First big-screen acting role came with 1949's Lost Boundaries, in which he portrayed a light-skinned black doctor posing as white.
  • Directed then-wife Audrey Hepburn in 1959 romance Green Mansions, and produced her critically acclaimed thriller Wait Until Dark (1967).
  • Took on his first series-regular role in the early '80s, playing Phillip Erikson on the prime-time soap Falcon Crest.
  • Frequently starred in stage and screen productions, but maintained that he disliked acting and preferred to direct.