Hollywood legend behind ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Braveheart’ dead

Alan Ladd Jr., an Oscar-winning producer and industry legend, is dead at the age of 84, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ladd won an Oscar for “Braveheart” and was the man who greenlighted “Star Wars” in the 1970s. 

Ladd died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles according to his daughter Amanda Ladd-Jones, who directed a documentary about his life. There was no cause of death immediately given.

Ladd was the son of Alan Ladd, best known as the star of 1953’s “Shane.”

According to his iMDB profile, Ladd began his career as a talent agent in 1963 before shifting to independent production.

In 1973, he was hired by Twentieth Century Fox and was named president of the company in 1976.

As Hollywood legend has it, he saw George Lucas’ yet-to-be-released “American Graffiti” in 1973 and was impressed enough to sit down with the filmmaker to discuss any ideas he had for future projects.

Lucas sketched out the basic details behind “Star Wars” during the meeting, prompting Ladd to commission a script. The rest, as they say, is history.

“The only reason it got off the ground was that Alan liked ‘American Graffiti’ and said, ‘I don’t understand this movie, I don’t get it at all, but I think you’re a talented guy and I want you to make it,'” Lucas said, according to NPR.

Ladd said his “biggest contribution to ‘Star Wars was keeping my mouth shut and standing by the picture.”

In addition to greenlighting “Star Wars,” other films that Ladd helped shepherd during the 1970s included “Young Frankenstein,” “The Towering Inferno,” “Breaking Away” and “Alien.”

Ladd returned to producing in 1979, producing the Best Picture Oscar winning “Chariots of Fire” as well as films like “The Right Stuff,” “Blade Runner” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”

In 1985, he would take over MGM/UA, where hits included “Rocky IV,” “Rain Man,” “A Fish Called Wanda” and “Moonstruck.”

He would again return to producing in 1993, winning a Best Picture for producing “Braveheart.”

Accepting the award as a producer, his speech was short. “I’d like to thank my family. Thank you,” Ladd said.

Despite being the son of a famous actor, Ladd said he never wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. His parents were divorced and he didn’t live with his dad until he was a teenager.

“Their life was like living in a prison,” Ladd said in 1996. “Back then, you didn’t have TV stars, so film stars were even bigger. They couldn’t go anywhere.”

Ladd’s wife and three children survive him.