Producer Lawrence Turman Dies

Turman’s producing career spanned 50 years

Lawrence Turman is a highly accomplished American Academy Award-nominated film producer and has been involved in numerous successful films throughout his career. Turman was born on May 6, 1926, in Los Angeles, California, United States, into a Jewish family. His parents were Jacob M. Turman and Esther Goldberg.

Before working in show biz, Lawrence served two years in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man, then went to work for his father in the textile business. After spending time working with his family, Lawrence Turman entered the business as a talent agent in the 1950s. His film career began as an agent for the likes of Joan Fontaine and Alan Pakula at the Kurt Frings Agency in the late 1950s. He began his producing career in 1961 with Stuart Millar on The Young Doctors. Other early credits included 1963’s Stolen Hours, starring Susan Hayward, and Judy Garland’s final feature film starring role in I Could Go on Singing. The next year he produced the acclaimed film version of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson. Around the same time, he spent $1,000 to option Charles Webb’s[1] novel The Graduate after reading an early rave review of it.

He would spend more than two years trying to sell it, unsuccessfully, to studios before getting wunderkind Mike Nichols attached as director, a wise move since Nichols would go on to an Oscar nomination for his first film, 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

A producer is always searching for a good story, a good idea or a good character. I would read the New York Times, various journals, the London papers. Being on constant alert for stories is the definition of being a producer. That is the lifeblood of a producer. I am now a professor of film and television at the University of Southern California and I teach producing.

Lawrence Turman – as told to David Jenkins (2017)

Turman would receive his sole Oscar nomination for producing The Graduate, which earned seven nominations in 1967, winning one for Nichols’ direction. Mike Nichols died on November 19, 2014, at the age of 83.

Lawrence Turman Filmography (Produced Films)
  • The Young Doctors (1961)
  • The Prize (1963)
  • The Great Race (1965)
  • The Wild Angels (1966)
  • The Happening (1967)
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  • Bullitt (1968)
  • The April Fools (1969)
  • The Cowboys (1972)
  • The Other Side of the Mountain (1975)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • American History X (1998)
Filmography (Executive Produced Films)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • The Stalking Moon (1968)
  • Monte Walsh (1970)
  • Love Story (1970)
  • The Getaway (1972)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)
  • The Bad News Bears (1976)
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
  • Short Circuit (1986)

In his directorial debut, Lawrence Turman directed a romantic comedy-drama, The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971). It stars Richard Benjamin in the title role and Joanna Shimkus as his beleaguered wife, with Adam West, Elizabeth Ashley, Patricia Barry, and Tiffany Bolling in supporting roles.

He was also the director of Second Thoughts (1983). It was a comedy-drama starring Lucie Arnaz, Craig Wasson, Ken Howard, and Anne Schedeen.

In addition to his extensive career as a film producer, Lawrence Turman has been a prominent figure in film education. He served as a professor of film and television at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Turman’s expertise in producing led him to teach courses focused on the art and business of producing films. As a professor, Turman shared his knowledge and experience with aspiring filmmakers, providing valuable insights into the industry.

Turman published the book So You Want to be a Producer with Three Rivers Press in 2005. Examining all the nuts and bolts of production, such as raising money and securing permissions, finding a story and developing a script, choosing a director, hiring actors, and marketing your project, So You Want to Be a Producer is a must-have resource packed with insider information and first-hand advice from top Hollywood producers, writers, and directors, offering invaluable help for beginners and professionals alike.

His teachings covered various aspects of film production, including script development, financing, casting, and distribution. Turman’s practical approach and real-world experience made him a highly regarded and influential educator. Turman’s involvement with USC also included mentoring and guiding students in their creative projects. He played a crucial role in shaping the careers of many aspiring filmmakers, helping them understand the intricacies of producing and guiding them toward success in the industry.

Lawrence Turman’s dual roles as a film producer and a professor at USC allowed him to bridge the gap between academia and practical filmmaking, enriching the education of countless students with his firsthand industry knowledge.

Larry led a remarkable life for 96 years and we were fortunate to share part of it with him. Larry was a movie industry legend. His fifty-year career gave us classics like The Graduate, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, The Great White Hope, The Thing, and American History X, and made him the expert on the critical role of Producers in film. His book “So You Want to Be a Producer,” is a manual for how to succeed at the job and a tribute to the role. Larry of course impacted all of us at the School of Cinematic Arts as Chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program, which he ran from 1991 until he retired in 2021, transforming the program into a training ground for all disciplines of the industry, and helping define the role of today’s Creative Producer. As he was fond of saying, any film school can teach you how to make a movie, but Stark teaches “how to get movies made.” Without a doubt, Larry was a transformative member of our industry, and our School. He was a wise mentor and guide. On a personal note, Larry was my dear friend and colleague for almost 40 years, and I will miss him deeply as I know many of you will. Having him in our lives was a blessing beyond measure.

Elizabeth M. Daley – Dean of School of Cinematic Arts at USC

In 2014, he appeared as a guest critic on the fourth season of the web series On Cinema.

In 2015, he appeared as himself in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary Trojan War.

Turman died Saturday, July 1, 2023, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, at the age of 96. Survivors include his sons, John, a co-screenwriter on Hulk (2003) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007); Andrew, a camera operator, and cinematographer; and Peter; daughters-in-law Analuisa, Nancy, and Sheri; grandchildren Audrey, Carter, Georgia and Olivia; and nieces Katherine (a journalist) and Suzanna.

  1. Charles Webb (1939-2020) was an American author best known for his acclaimed novel “The Graduate” (1963). Born in San Francisco, Webb attended prestigious schools and later wrote his most famous work inspired by his own unconventional relationship experiences. “The Graduate” delves into themes of generational tension and societal expectations and was adapted into a highly successful film in 1967. While “The Graduate” remains his most celebrated work, Webb continued to write other novels, including “Love, Roger” (1969), “Orphans and Other Children” (1975), and “New Cardiff” (2001), among others. Despite his reclusive nature, Webb made significant contributions to American literature, exploring themes of identity, alienation, and human connection throughout his body of work. He passed away in 2020. [Back]

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

Leave a Reply