Entertainment World Mourns the Loss of Trailblazing Producer Albert S. Ruddy

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In the heart of Manhattan’s unrepentant hustle and bustle, a silence fell as the entertainment world mourned the loss of one of its boldest and most creative artists – Albert S. Ruddy. A flamboyant, Canadian-born producer and script-writer, known best for his monumental Oscar marksmanship with “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby,” Ruddy marked his departure from a life well spent at the age of 94.

His last breath was drawn serenely on a Saturday in the peaceful confines of the UCLA Medical Center, as reported by a spokesperson who shared Ruddy’s concluding words: “The game is over, but we won the game.”

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Ruddy, a strapping figure with an urban swagger, was known for his raspy voice that reverberated with the weight of his life’s tales. His larger-than-life journey spanned more than 30 films that graced – and grazed – both the industry’s zenith and nadir, as seen in his work with the critically acclaimed “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby,” and the less well-received “Cannonball Run II” and “Megaforce,” reputed as some of the worst films of the year in the Golden Raspberry awards.

Ruddy had a diverse range of creations under his belt, including the rowdy prison-sports comedy, “The Longest Yard,” for which he doubled as the producer and story creator, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller “Sabotage.” His enduring collaborations with Burt Reynolds began with “The Longest Yard” and extended to the “Cannonball Run” comedies and “Cloud Nine.” His television wonders included “Married to a Stranger,” “Running Mates,” and the hit sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Yet, the foundation of Ruddy’s indomitable reputation was arguably his work on “The Godfather.” The production of this masterpiece, however, meant sailing against a threatening tide that jeopardized his career, reflected on his reputation, and threatened his life. Italian Americans, represented by figures like Frank Sinatra, harbored a concern that the film would fortify damaging stereotypes of Italians as criminals. Even the ominous gazes of the mob seemed to follow Ruddy, filling his nights with the terror of gunshots outside his home and the shattering of his car windows.

Ruddy faced proceedings with unyielding bravery and diplomacy, negotiating with crime boss Joseph Colombo and some menacing henchmen to navigate the stormy waters. A mere removal of the word “mafia” from the script and a donation to the Italian American Civil Rights League was the price of their approval. Colombo was so appeased that he invited Ruddy to a press conference, confessing his approval of the movie – an event resulting in Ruddy being captured in photographs alongside organized crime members.

Despite the tumultuous journey to the movie’s creation, Ruddy was known to perceive it as one giant happy family. The sense of fellowship was so pervasive that mobsters integrated into the set as though they were part of the act. Ruddy himself even cameoed as a Hollywood studio guard.

“A Godfather” remains steadfast in the heart of the film world as a beloved classic, transcending eras and winning the best picture Oscar in 1973. Half a century later, in 2022, Ruddy once again took center stage, this time as a character in a Paramount+ miniseries about the making of the movie, “The Offer.” His life was encapsulated in the performance of Miles Teller.

Ruddy’s departure leaves behind his wife Wanda McDaniel, a major figurehead in the commercial success of Giorgio Armani within Hollywood, and their two children. Born a Montreal native in 1930, he made the US his home as he grew up among the infinite skyscrapers of New York City. Later years saw him weave serendipitous paths in the entertainment industry, all the way from an architect to a globally revered producer, with a legacy that would echo through the ages.