Albert Ruddy, The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby producer, dies at 94

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Albert S. Ruddy, a vibrant producer and writer born in Canada who won Oscars for The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby, passed away at the age of 94. He was the mastermind behind the lively prison-sports comedy The Longest Yard and played a role in creating the popular sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.

Ruddy peacefully departed this world on Saturday at the UCLA medical center, as confirmed by a spokesperson. Among his final words were: “The game is over, but we won the game.” Known for his tall, muscular stature, raspy voice, and urban confidence, Ruddy produced over 30 films, ranging from acclaimed works like The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby to less successful ones like Cannonball Run II and Megaforce, which were nominated for Golden Raspberry awards for the worst movie of the year.

His career featured a mix of hits like The Longest Yard, for which he produced and crafted the story, and misses like the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller Sabotage. Ruddy frequently collaborated with Burt Reynolds, beginning with The Longest Yard and continuing with two Cannonball Run comedies and Cloud Nine. In addition to Hogan’s Heroes, his television portfolio includes the films Married to a Stranger and Running Mates.

While The Godfather is a prestigious achievement, its production posed risks for Ruddy’s job, reputation, and safety. The project stirred controversy among Frank Sinatra and other Italian Americans, who feared it would perpetuate negative Italian stereotypes. Real-life mobsters even issued warnings to Ruddy, with one night culminating in gunfire outside his residence and his car’s windows being shot out.

Faced with this danger, Ruddy navigated the situation with tact; he engaged in diplomatic discussions with crime boss Joseph Colombo and his associates to address concerns about the script.

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