1999-06-29

ALLAN CARR, American film producer died (b. 1937); There was never anyone quite like Allan Carr and there hasn’t been anyone like him since. Carr was an American film producer and manager of actors and musicians.

Nothing said 1970s hedonism like an Allan Carr production. But then there was nothing else like the very ostentatious, obese, ornate caftan-wearing Carr. He built a fortune by betting on show biz. While still in college, he invested $750 in a Broadway production of The Ziegfeld Follies, starring Tallulah Bankhead. The payoff was handsome and Carr continued to reinvest in hit after hit, making money hand over fist. 

He produced events and premiers, including an infamous formal-dress party hosted by Truman Capote at LA County Jail in 1963.  Allan Carr Enterprises, formed in 1966, managed the careers of: Tony Curtis, Peter Sellers, Rosalind Russell, Dyan Cannon, Nancy Walker, Marvin Hamlisch, Joan Rivers, Peggy Lee, Mama Cass Elliot, Paul Anka, Frankie Valli, George Maharis, and Herb Alpert.  

He personally looked after Ann-Margret, producing a  string of whose TV specials for the star in the 1960s and 1970s, putting her in the film version of Tommy (1975), one of her best roles and an Oscar nomination. Carr produced and promoted the films: Grease (1978) Grease 2 (1982) Where The Boys Are 84Tommy (1975), and the original Broadway production of La Cage Aux Folles.

Carr kept busy hosting exclusive extravagant events with guest lists that included most show biz legends and those that loved them. The invitations to the gatherings at his opulent mansion, with nine bars, a disco, and plenty of private rooms where guests could indulge in cocaine & sex, were highly coveted even in the homophobic Hollywood of the 1970s.

He titled his parties like films: the “Roman Polanski Rolodex Party,” the “Rudolph Nureyev Mattress Party,” the “Mick Jagger Cycle Sluts Party,” the “Truman Capote Jailhouse Party”. He invited rock stars and Hollywood royalty. At a Carr fete you might rub-up against Elton John, Groucho Marx, or the pool boy. To promote the opening of Tommy, Carr held the opening-night party in the NYC subway.

His reputation for hosting lavish and expensive parties and creating spectacular production numbers led the producers of the 61st Annual Academy Awards to hire him to create the show based on his promise that he would turn it around from the dry, dull show it had been in previous years.

Promising “the antithesis of tacky” it turned out to be the epitome of it, a disaster culminating in the infamous pairing of Snow White (played by Eileen Bowman) and Rob Lowe singing “Proud Mary.” The telecast also featured a production number featuring what was introduced as “the youth of Hollywood”, with all the participants in their 20s or early 30s. The show became a laughing-stock and has gone down in history one of the worst moments in awards show and television history.

Adding to the misery, The Walt Disney Company sued for illegal use of Snow White’s image. Carr’s reputation never recovered, although his decision to change the award announcement from “And the winner is…” to “And the Oscar goes to…” has become the norm, not just for the Oscars, but for awards shows in general. He never worked in Hollywood again and at the time of his death, was employed in an office in Brentwood, CA.