Martin Ransohoff ’49
July 7, 1927–Dec. 13, 2017
“Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed….” Chances are, you’ve heard those opening lyrics from The Beverly Hillbillies theme song. The show was broadcast for nearly a decade and was nominated for seven Emmy Awards. It’s also the TV show that Martin Ransohoff ’49 was best known for producing.
A history major at Colgate, Ransohoff was a member of Phi Gamma Delta, wrote for the Maroon, and was a basketball player.
After graduation, he worked in advertising before starting his work on the silver screen. Ransohoff had a knack for communications, advertising for both Kodak and Young & Rubicam in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Still, he was interested in creating projects of his own. So, in 1952, he developed his own venture, a film and TV production company called Filmways, alongside his colleague Edwin Casper.
His many production credits at Filmways include Catch-22 (1970), The Sandpiper (1965), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), and Ice Station Zebra (1968). However, it was the popular cartoon The Addams Family, first created by Charles Addams (who spent a year at Colgate), for which the company became most notable for producing.
With an appreciation for comedy and a penchant for inventive props and sets, Ransohoff constantly stayed ahead of popular industry trends and was known for taking risks. “One reason Ransohoff’s fortunes are being followed with interest is that, of all the younger producers in Hollywood, none is more committed to the proposition that movies should have something to say in addition to providing entertainment,” the New York Times penned in 1965.
Parting with Filmways in 1972, Ransohoff established Martin Ransohoff Productions, collaborating on numerous projects with Paramount Pictures and Columbia. In the latter part of his career, he produced the horror film Nightwing (1979) under Paramount and Oscar-nominated courtroom drama Jagged Edge (1985) with Columbia.
On Dec. 13, 2017, Ransohoff died at the age of 90 in his Bel-Air, Calif., home. He was predeceased by his daughter. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Joan Marie; two sons; a stepdaughter; a stepson; and 10 grandchildren.
— Julia Klein ’19