Mel Ferrer Bio, Early Life, Career, Net Worth and Salary

Mel Ferrer was an American actor, director, and producer best known for being Audrey Hepburn’s first husband. He appeared alongside her in the 1956 film adaptation of ‘War and Peace.’ Mel is frequently labeled as progressive. To make ends meet, he began working as a repertory actor at the Cape Cod Playhouse in Massachusetts. He went on to become the editor of a small Vermont newspaper and even wrote a children’s book called ‘Tito’s Hat,’ which was published in 1940. After that, he relocated to New York City to pursue his acting career. In New York, he demonstrated his acting abilities by appearing in two plays in the same year: a revival of ‘King Lady’ and the thriller ‘Cue for Passion,’ both directed by Otto Preminger. After recovering from Polio, he worked in radio for a while before becoming a producer and director for the NBC television network. Ferrer was also a television success, with recurring roles in the CBS serial ‘Falcon Crest.’ He also directed Hepburn in the film ‘Green Mansions’ and produced ‘Wait Until Dark,’ one of her best films.

Childhood and Adolescence

Melchor Gaston Ferrer was born to a Cuban father and an American mother on August 25, 1917, in the Elberon hamlet of Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA. Dr. Jose Maria Ferrer, his father, was a pneumonia expert and the chief of staff at New York City’s St. Vincent’s Hospital.

His mother, Mary Matilda Irene, was the daughter of a coffee merchant who opposed all forms of Prohibition and was chosen state head of the Citizen’s Committee for Sane Liquor Laws in New York City in 1934.

He attended New York’s Bovee School and Canterbury Prep School in Connecticut. Later, he attended Princeton University but dropped out after his sophomore year to focus on his acting.

Mel was one of three children. His older sister, Dr. M. Irene Ferrer, was a cardiologist and an educator, and his younger sister, Teresa (Terry) Ferrer, was a religion editor for the New York Herald Tribune and an education editor for Newsweek.

Career as an actor

Ferrer began working in summer stock when he was in his teens, and for the piece ‘Awhile to Work,’ he won the ‘Theatre Intime’ prize. He then made his Broadway debut as a chorus dancer in Cole Porter’s ‘You Never Know’ and the historical pageant ‘Everywhere I Roam’ in 1938, followed by his acting debut two years later.

He began working as a disc jockey in Arkansas and Texas while suffering from polio. Later, he relocated to Mexico to write a novel and began producing and directing for NBC.

He eventually returned to Broadway, directing the 1946 stage production of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac,’ and then went into movie pictures, directing over ten feature films and acting in over eighty.

He was eventually engaged as a dialogue coach by Columbia Pictures, and in 1945, he was given the opportunity to direct the melodramatic film ‘The Girl of the Limberlost.’ In the film ‘Strange Fruit,’ he had a pivotal role.

He directed a critically acclaimed revival of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac.’ Mel’s direction and colorful production with vibrant swordplay and the magnificent staging of the movie’s concluding sequence were hailed by critics. In 1967, he had great success as a producer with the picture ‘Wait Until Dark,’ starring Audrey Hepburn.

He decided to start the La Jolla Playhouse with Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, and Joseph Cotten after spending time in Mexico, and they would offer theatre to the area on a summer seasonal basis. After that, he directed the Howard Hughes disaster ‘Vendetta’ before directing his most popular film, ‘The Secret Fury,’ in 1950.

Ferrer made his acting debut in the 1949 film ‘Lost Boundaries.’ In Nicholas Ray’s ‘Born to Be Bad,’ he played an artist who was monitoring Joan Fontaine’s vamp behavior. In the 1951 film ‘The Brave Bulls,’ he played a sophisticated matador with a lack of confidence.

He is most recognized as the outlaw sweetheart of actress Marlene Dietrich in the film ‘Rancho Notorious,’ and then as the crippled puppeteer in the musical ‘Lili,’ starring Leslie Caron, in 1953. In 1953, he starred as King Arthur in the film ‘Knights of the Round Table.’

In the French Revolution film ‘Scaramouche’ from 1952, he played the evil Marquis de Maynes. He even played Prince Andrei in the 1956 film ‘War and Peace’ alongside his wife Audrey Hepburn.

Mel was hailed for his passionate portrayal in the film ‘Marquis de Maynes,’ in which he played both a villain and a convincing admirer of Marie Antoinette.

Ferrer’s performance in Charles Walter’s 1953 film ‘Lilly,’ in which he plays a bitter, disabled puppeteer who can only woo a homeless youngster through the voice and ego of a wooden doll, was praised by reviewers and audiences.

Mel met Audrey Hepburn in London at a party hosted by Gregory Peck while working on the film “Knights of the Round Table.” She expressed a strong desire to perform in one of his plays.

Audrey Hepburn in Films

Following their marriage, the couple appeared in a number of films together. Ferrer starred alongside Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda in Raoul Walsh’s film ‘War and Peace in 1956.

He then directed Audrey in blockbuster films like ‘Green Mansions’ (1959), which was based on W.H. Hudson’s novel and told the story of ‘Rima the Bird Girl’ and her sanctuary in the Amazonian jungle.

Ferrer returned to acting in 1964, appearing in a cameo part in Audrey Hepburn’s film ‘Paris When It Sizzles.’ In 1967, he created a film adaptation of the Broadway classic ‘Wait Until Dark,’ starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind girl who confronts a band of smugglers. This film proved to be Hepburn’s last significant success.

His experience in Television

Inger Stevens starred in Ferrer’s first television series, ‘The Farmer’s Daughter,’ which he directed from 1963 until 1966.

Mel played a blackmailing reporter in the Columbo episode ‘Requiem for a fallen star,’ which starred Anne Baxter, and he was praised for his performance in an episode of ‘Return of the Saint,’ which aired in 1979.

Personal History and Legacy

Mel was married five times. Frances Gunby Pilchard, an actress and sculptor, was his first and third wife. He and Pepa Philippa Ferer had two children: Mark Young Ferrer and Pepa Philippa Ferer.

Barbara C. Tripp was his second wife, and the couple had two children, Mella Ferrer, and Christopher Ferrer.

Following that, he married Audrey Hepburn (1954-1968), with whom he had a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer.
He had a brief romance with Tessa Kennedy, a 29-year-old interior designer, before his fifth marriage to Elizabeth.

Finally, in 1971, he married Elizabeth Soukhotine, with whom he remained until his death in 2008.
He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6268 Hollywood Boulevard in recognition of his achievements in the film industry.

Ferrer died of a heart attack in a Santa Barbara convalescent home on June 2, 2008, at the age of 90.

Estimated Net worth

Mel is one of the wealthiest directors and one of the most popular. Mel Ferrer’s net worth is estimated to be $1 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

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