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Ronald L Schwary, Oscar-Winning 'Ordinary People' Producer, Dies at 76

TheWrap logo TheWrap 7/11/2020 Rosemary Rossi
a man wearing a suit and tie: Ronald L Schwary obit ordinary people producer © TheWrap Ronald L Schwary obit ordinary people producer

Ronald L. Schwary, Oscar-winning producer of "Ordinary People," died July 2 surrounded by his sons, Brian and Neil. He was 76.

No cause of death has been released, although he was forced into retirement in 2015 due to a rare neurological autonomic disorder, which he had been struggling with for many years.

Schwary's extensive career as a producer took off in 1978 after serving as an associate producer on the film adaptation of the Neil Simon play "California Suite," which stars Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and many others. That same year, he also served as associate producer and production manager for the Sydney Pollack-directed him "The Electric Horseman," starring Fonda and Robert Redford.

The following year, Redford hired Schwary as the sole producer for his directorial debut of "Ordinary People." That film went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture for Schwary and Best Director for Redford, as well as the New York Film Critics Award, National Board of Review Best Picture Award and a Golden Globe Award.

He again teamed with Pollack on "Absence of Malice," the newspaper drama starring Paul Newman and Sally Field, and then again in 1982's Best Picture Oscar-nominated film "Tootsie," starring Dustin Hoffman, whom he acted as a stand-in for on "The Graduate." It marked Schwary's first credit as executive producer.

Schwary went on to produce the Rolling Stones concert documentary, "Let's Spend the Night Together," as well as "A Soldier Story," which earned him his third Academy Award nomination. Among the other films he produced are "*Batteries Not Included," "Havana" (working again with Redford), "Scent of a Woman," "Cops and Robbersons," "Sabrina," "The Mirror Has Two Faces," "Meet Joe Black" and "Random Hearts."

In addition, he was producer on the drama series about the Vietnam War, "Tour of Duty," the Dennis Haysbert series "Now and Again" and the NBC series "Medium," which starred Patricia Arquette as real-life psychic/medium Allison Dubois, who aided police in solving crimes.

In addition to his sons, Brian and Neil, Schwary is survived by his three brothers, Mitchell Jr., Dennis, Gary and his sister, Carol; his grandson, Mars, and his many nephews and nieces.


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