The death of reluctant film star Mel Ferrer
He was one the most striking film stars of
the 20th century, married to one of the most glamorous women of modern times.
But a day after the death of Mel Ferrer at the age of 90 from complications arising from pneumonia and intestinal illness, his son Mark told the German Press Agency dpa that his first love was not film or theatre, acting or directing - but civil rights.
"I really admired his intelligence, his wisdom and his awful wit," said Mark Ferrer of his father. "His biggest legacy in life is probably his enduring unwavering commitment to civil rights. That's where all his energy went."
That's quite a statement for a man considered one of the last legends of Hollywood's golden years, whose memorable roles as a crippled puppeteer in Lili in 1953 and as an aristocrat in the 1956 version of Tolstoy's War and Peace are considered Hollywood classics.
Those roles coincided with his relationship with Audrey Hepburn, whom he married in 1954. They divorced in 1968. He directed his wife in several films including the critically acclaimed Green Mansions and Wait Until Dark.
"Acting, at times, depresses Mel," Hepburn, who died in 1993, once said. "Directing lifts him. He's so relaxed at it that I just know it is the job he loves."
In all, Ferrer appeared in more than 100 films, directed nine films and produced nine more.
"I don't think he ever really wanted to be an actor," his son Mark said Tuesday in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "He had kind of a stunning face and it got him typecast."
Born Melchor Gaston Ferrer on 25 August 1917 in Elberon, New Jersey, Ferrer was the son of a Cuban-born doctor and a socialite mother. He married his fourth wife, Elizabeth Soukhotine, in 1969.
She survives him along with his four sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.
His last appearance in front of the camera came more than ten years ago when Ferrer appeared in the 1995 TV movie Katharina The Great at the side of Catherine Zeta-Jones.
His son Mark said he was proudest of his appearances in Lili and the French Revolution adventure Scaramouche.
"He was only pleased with some roles," said Ferrer. "He felt good about Lili and Scaramouche where he did an elegant job with the sword. He was proud to have done all the stunts himself.", according to dpa.