September 13, 1946
Newport Beach, California, USA
Producer, 2nd unit director, Director, Actor, Guitarist, Location manager, Production assistant, Production supervisor, Record producer
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Easily ranking as one of the most successful figures in Hollywood, producer-director Frank Marshall was associated with an astounding percentage of the highest grossing and most beloved films in the history of American cinema. After receiving his start with auteur director Peter Bogdanovich on films such as "The Last Picture Show" (1971), he went on to produce projects for iconic directors Martin Scorsese and Walter Hill, before working with Steven Spielberg on the globe-trotting adventure tale "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981). This began a long-lasting professional relationship with the prolific filmmaker, in addition to introducing Marshall to his future wife and producing partner, Kathleen Kennedy. Under the Amblin Entertainment banner, formed with Spielberg, he and Kennedy produced a slew of hits, including "Gremlins" (1984), "The Goonies" (1985), and "Arachnophobia" (1990), the latter of which also marked his feature film directorial debut. By 1991, he and his wife had formed their own production company, which enjoyed great success with films like "The Sixth Sense" (1999), although efforts such as "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008) provided continued collaboration with Spielberg. Some 40 years later, Marshall was still working on important films with the very best Hollywood had to offer - Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" (2008) being one example - continuously adding to one of the most impressive, well-rounded careers in modern filmmaking.
Born Frank Wilton Marshall on Sept. 13, 1946 in Glendale, CA, he was the son of composer-arranger Jack Marshall. After spending his early years in the city of Van Nuys, he and his family moved to the coastal community of Newport Beach, where the teenage Marshall attended Newport Harbor High School. He entered the film business as a protégé of director Peter Bogdanovich, whom he met at a birthday party for the daughter of director John Ford, a Marshall family friend. Bogdanovich invited Marshall, then an undergrad at UCLA, to work on his feature directorial debut, "Targets" (1968). Marshall received his apprenticeship in film production performing various tasks, such as decorating sets, making sandwiches and even appearing in a bit part. After traveling through Europe post-graduation, he returned stateside to Wichita Falls, TX as location manager on Bogdanovich's seminal film, "The Last Picture Show" (1971). Under Bogdanovich's tutelage, Marshall would work his way up from producer's assistant to associate producer on five more films. He branched out to work with Martin Scorsese as a line producer on the music documentary "The Last Waltz" (1978) and as an associate producer on director Walter Hill's gritty crime thriller, "The Driver" (1978). The following year, Marshall earned his first executive producer credit on Hill's cult classic street gang movie "The Warriors" (1979).
Marshall's work as producer on George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's paean to the pulp adventures of the past, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), was not only a pivotal moment in his career, but in his personal life as well. It was during production of the blockbuster that he met his future wife and partner, Kathleen Kennedy, who was serving as associate producer on the film. The collaboration proved to be so fruitful that the trio of Marshall, Kennedy and Spielberg went on to form the production shingle Amblin Entertainment - named after Spielberg's first feature film - later that same year. Together they went on to produce the Tobe Hooper-directed horror movie "Poltergeist" (1982), followed by Joe Dante's mini-monster romp "Gremlins" (1984), which marked the first Amblin production the three would collaborate on as co-producers. He went on to serve as executive producer and 2nd Unit director on the sequels "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) with Spielberg and Lucas. Marshall also served as executive producer with Kennedy and Spielberg on the popular Michael J. Fox franchise that began with "Back to the Future" (1985), directed by Robert Zemeckis. Additionally, he lent his services to Spielberg's lauded adaptation of the classic Alice Walker novel, "The Color Purple" (1985).
While still primarily a film producer, Marshall began to dip his toe in the director's pool. After producing the animation/live-action hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988), he helmed the "Roger Rabbit" spin-off shorts, "Tummy Trouble" (1989) and "Roller Coaster Rabbit" (1990). Now confident enough to take the director's chair on his first full-length feature, Marshall made his debut with the comedy-thriller "Arachnophobia" (1990). A creepy, campy yarn about poisonous spiders on the loose in suburbia, the movie was a delightful homage to the creature features of the 1950s. He also worked in the world of television, primarily as an executive producer of numerous "Making of..." specials, detailing his high-profile Spielberg projects. He served as a production executive on the animated spin-off series, "Back to the Future" (CBS, 1991-93) and "Fievel's American Tails" (CBS, 1992-93), as well the short-lived Spielberg/Tim Burton cartoon collaboration, "Family Dog" (CBS, 1992-93). Marshall made his TV directing debut on "Johnny Bago" (CBS, 1992-93) - the wonderfully wacky story of an ex-hustler on the lam from the mob, traveling middle-America in a Winnebago - which he also executive produced with Robert Zemeckis.
Marshall departed Amblin in 1991 and formed The Kennedy/Marshall Company with his partner the following year. He embarked upon his second directorial outing, "Alive" (1993), a horrifyingly true story about a South American rugby team forced to resort to cannibalism in order to survive after a disastrous plane crash in the Andes. Marshall effectively transformed a potentially unsavory subject into an inspirational film. He again demonstrated his comfort with special effects and a flair for bold adventure when he helmed "Congo" (1995), a high-tech jungle adventure adapted from Michael Crichton's novel about a lost city protected by a tribe of intelligent apes. While Kennedy remained active producing films for much of the rest of the 1990s, Marshall took a four-year hiatus. Near the end of the decade, he and Kennedy collaborated again on two underperforming literary adaptations. "A Map of the World" (1999), based on Jane Hamilton novel about suspicion and persecution in a small Midwestern town, received strong reviews from the likes of Roger Ebert, but failed to strike a cord with audiences. A tale of desire and racial prejudice in post-war America, "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999), adapted from David Guterson's book, earned an Academy Award nomination for best cinematography, although the film's ponderous pace garnered little praise from critics.
Marshall's comeback year arrived with the surprise hit of the 1999 season, director M. Night Shyamalan's supernatural thriller "The Sixth Sense." A modern day ghost story about a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) trying to help a troubled young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who claims to "see dead people," the film went on receive six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. Other producing credits for Marshall included the action adventure "The Bourne Identity" (2002), along with its subsequent sequels, and another Shyamalan thriller, "Signs" (2002). He once again did double duty as director and producer on the factually based "Eight Below" (2006), a family-friendly adventure about an Arctic explorer desperately trying to rescue his stranded team of sled dogs. More high-profile projects followed, such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008), starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse; "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008), the long-awaited, but ultimately disappointing fourth entry in the beloved Indy franchise; and Shyamalan's reviled big-budget spectacle "The Last Airbender" (2010). Marshall revisited the theme of the departed speaking to the living with director Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" (2010), and teamed with old friend Spielberg once again for the period equine drama "War Horse" (2011).