Alan Ladd Jr., the producer who green-lit Star Wars and worked on 14 Best Picture–nominated films, has died. He was 84. Ladd was known for being a stand-up guy and an all-around nice fellow. “There are snakes in this business and then there’s Alan Ladd,” director Richard Donner was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. Ladd’s daughter broke the news in a Facebook post. No cause of death was given.
Ladd was the son of actor Alan Ladd. Junior got his start working as his father’s stuntman, but he eventually became one of the most important and well-liked men in Hollywood. Ladd green-lit Star Wars while he was working for Fox, back when the script was still titled The Adventures of Luke Starkiller As Taken From the Journal of the Whills, Saga 1, Star Wars. So he was clearly putting a lot of faith in George Lucas. “My biggest contribution to Star Wars was keeping my mouth shut and standing by the picture,” said Ladd. He kept his mouth shut and stood by other such beloved films as Young Frankenstein, Blade Runner, Braveheart, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movies Ladd helped shepherd earned a total of 50 Oscars and 150 nominations. He won Best Picture for Braveheart after being ousted from MGM and taking the project with him, something he called “sweet justice.”