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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Warner Bros mogul dies
The Exorcist
Ashley backed films like 1974's The Exorcist
Hollywood mogul Ted Ashley, who made Warner Brothers into a movie giant in the 1970s, has died aged 80 from leukaemia.

Ashley was chairman and chief executive of the studio for 11 years from 1969, and was the force behind blockbusters such as Dirty Harry, Superman and The Exorcist.

Under his direction, stars such as Clint Eastwood and Barbra Streisand became household names, and Stanley Kubrick's reputation as a film-maker was sealed with A Clockwork Orange.

Stanley Kurbick
Kubrick's career was championed by Ashley
Before Ashley took the helm, Warner Brothers had a reputation as a drab, loss-making studio.

Fellow executive John Calley - now chairman of Sony Pictures - recalled: "The studio had been losing money year after year, and the first year we go there, I think the studio made $35m, which was a lot of money."

Ashley started his showbusiness career aged 15, working for the William Morris talent agency.

By 23 he had his own firm, Ashley Famous Agency, whose stars included Perry Como, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

The agency later became involved in packaging TV shows including The Doris Day Show, Mission Impossible, Star Trek and Dr Kildare.

In the late 1960s, Ashley teamed up with car parking and funeral mogul Steve Ross to buy Warner Brothers, and the talent agency was sold off.

He served as chairman until 1980 and chief exectutive until 1981, when he named Robert Daley and Terry Semel as his successors.

See also:

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