Lion in Winter” producer Martin Poll dead at 89

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Martin Poll

Mar­tin Poll

Mar­tin Poll, nom­i­nated for the Oscar for Best Pic­ture for pro­duc­ing 1968’s The Lion in Win­ter, died Sat­ur­day in New York. He was 89.

He had pneu­mo­nia and kid­ney fail­ure, his son Jon said.

Star­ring Katharine Hep­burn and Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Win­ter was nom­i­nated for nine Acad­emy Awards and won three. The movie won the Golden Globe for Best Pic­ture, the New York Film Crit­ics Award for Best Pic­ture, two British Acad­emy Awards and the David di Donatello Award in Italy for Best Picture.

Poll was exec­u­tive pro­ducer of the cartoon-rich 1957 com­pi­la­tion The Big Fun Car­ni­val, a Sat­ur­day mati­nee fea­ture for chil­dren. Most of the car­toon shorts were released by Para­mount. The col­lec­tion included the 1932 Talka­r­toon Crazy Town(fea­tur­ing Betty Boop); The 500 Hats Of Bart­hole­mew Cub­bins(1943), from George Pal’s Mad­cap Mod­els series; Hans Fischerkoesen’s 1945 Ger­man car­toon Der Dumme Ganslein (The Silly Goose); and the 1949 Famous Stu­dios Screen Song Toys Will Be Toys.

Sev­eral of his movies intro­duced now-famous actors to the screen for the first time. Besides The Lion in Win­ter (with Anthony Hop­kins and Tim­o­thy Dal­ton), they included his first fea­ture film, Love Is a Ball, in which stars Glenn Ford and Hope Lange were joined by new­comer Telly Savalas. Other movies with screen debuts were The Magic Gar­den of Stan­ley Sweet­heart (1970, with Don John­son) and the made-for-TV Arthur the King (1985, with Liam Neeson).

His later works as a movie pro­ducer included 1975’s Love and Death, Woody Allen’s pas­tiche of Russ­ian nov­els, and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (1976), based on a Yukio Mishima novel, and star­ring Sarah Miles and Kris Kristofferson.

In addi­tion, Poll worked in TV, and was nom­i­nated for an Emmy as one of the exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers on the 2003 Show­time remake of The Lion in Win­ter, star­ring Glenn Close. He pro­duced CBS minis­eries The Dain Curse (1978), star­ring James Coburn and based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel; CBS TV-movie The Fan­tas­tic Seven (1979); and NBC’s Diana: Her True Story (1993).

Born in New York City on Novem­ber 24, 1922, Poll started in movies in 1954, pro­duc­ing 39 half-hour episodes of the Flash Gor­don TV series in Ger­many and France over two years for inter­na­tional release.

Restor­ing the ven­er­a­ble and his­toric Bio­graph Stu­dio, he reopened it in 1956 as the Gold Medal Stu­dios, the United States’ biggest film stu­dio out­side Los Ange­les. There, he pro­duced But­ter­field 8, for which Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor won an Oscar for Best Actress; Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, star­ring a young Andy Grif­fith; The Mid­dle of the Night and The God­dess, both writ­ten by Paddy Chayef­sky; and “The Fugi­tive Kind,” directed by Sid­ney Lumet and star­ring Mar­lon Brando.

In 1959, he was appointed Com­mis­sioner of Motion Pic­ture Arts of the City of New York — and was the only per­son ever to hold that title. Later, the city set up a film commission.

Mar­tin Poll is sur­vived by his wife Gladys; sons Mark Poll, a set designer, Tony Jaffe and Jon Poll, a film edi­tor, pro­ducer and direc­tor; and three grandchildren.

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