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Entrepreneur and movie producer Jack Wrather, who brought 'Lassie'...

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Entrepreneur and movie producer Jack Wrather, who brought 'Lassie' and 'The Lone Ranger' to television and built the Disneyland Hotel 'on a hunch,' died Monday of complications from cancer. He was 66.

A spokeswoman at St. John's Hospital said Wrather, who had been hospitalized since Nov. 4, died at 6 a.m. PST. Funeral arrangements were pending.

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Wrather was an entrepreneur who parlayed millions into more millions with uncanny hunches and a Midas touch.

In addition to building the famous Orange County hotel when Disneyland was just a dream, Wrather saved his friend Howard Hughes' famed Spruce Goose from the wrecking crew in l981 and was a member of President Reagan's 'kitchen cabinet.'

Wrather, his actress wife Bonita Granville once said, was 'always going into things where everybody would look at him sideways and say 'you bought wh-a-a-at?' I've decided that's the story of Jack's life.'

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The Muzak Corporation, Teleprompter Cable, Independent Television Corporation and WNEW, the world's largest commericial radio station, were also among Wrather's diverse holdings.

'I never really went into a business that I, personally, and my wife couldn't have some fun out of,' Wrather said. 'Business, per se, doesn't affect me that much. It's nice to have a business that you can have fun doing and also make some money. You can't do that all the time.'

'I thoroughly expect to flop sometime,' he added. 'We're not that damned smart.'

Wrather inherited the presidency of his father's oil company, later diversifying its holdings into several movie-making companies and television stations. Between 1946 and 1955, Wrather produced seven movies for major Hollywood studios, beginning with a mystery, 'The Guilty.'

'I went about everything the wrong way I guess, but by golly, I had a few ideas of my own. I decided to make a murder mystery the way I've always wanted to see one on the screen -- and to heck with the customers,' Wrather said.

Wrather moved into television in the media's early years in the 1950s with 'The Lone Ranger,' which had been a popular series on radio in the late 1940s, which he produced for eight years.

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He followed with 'Lassie,' which ran on network television for two decades before slipping into syndication. Wrather's enthusiastic attempts to revive his early TV successes as feature films -- 'Lassie's Homecoming' in 1980 and 'Legend of the Lone Ranger' in 1981 -- flopped at the box office.

Wrather was born May 24, 1918, in Amarillo, Texas. He attended grammar school in Long Beach, Calif., and the family moved back to Texas in time for him to attend high school.

After receiving a B.A. degree in 1939 from the University of Texas, he spent a year 'roughnecking' on drilling rigs in the Texas oil fields.

He also supervised construction of a refinery, which was completed in 1940 -- the same year Wrather accepted the presidency of the family oil company after his father fell ill.

He joined the Marines in 1942, saw combat in the Pacific and retired in 1950 from the Marine Reserves with the rank of major.

In 1946, while president of Wrather Petroleum Corporation, a job he held until 1957, he formed and became president of Jack Wrather Pictures and Wrather Television Productions.

'I ended up owning eight television stations and 12 radio stations, but I sold them when it became an operational business that didn't give me a lot of pleasure.' he said.

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'It was a helluva business, a helluva business. I wish I hadn't sold now, because every year they double in value. But, I sold them when it wasn't fun anymore,' he said in 1978.

In 1954, he purchased rights to 'The Lone Ranger' and got a call from Walt Disney, who had sunk everything he had into Disneyland and didn't have the money to build a hotel next to his planned amusement park.

'I asked them why they didn't call Hilton or Sheraton, since I wasn't in the hotel business. They said they had called them, but they never heard of Anaheim and weren't interested,' Wrather said in 1978. Everyone, he said, laughed at his decision to build a 450-room complex in some orange groves in a California town nobody had heard of just because an amusement park was being built there.

Wrather inherited the presidency of his father's oil company, later diversifying its holdings into several movie-making companies and television stations. Between 1946 and 1955, Wrather produced seven movies for major Hollywood studios, beginning with a mystery, 'The Guilty.'

'I went about everything the wrong way I guess, but by golly, I had a few ideas of my own. I decided to make a murder mystery the way I've always wanted to see one on the screen -- and to heck with the customers,' Wrather said.

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Wrather moved into television in the media's early years in the 1950s with 'The Lone Ranger,' which had been a popular series on radio in the late 1940s, which he produced for eight years.

He followed with 'Lassie,' which ran on network television for two decades before slipping into syndication. Wrather's enthusiastic attempts to revive his early TV successes as feature films -- 'Lassie's Homecoming' in 1980 and 'Legend of the Lone Ranger' in 1981 -- flopped at the box office.

Wrather was born May 24, 1918, in Amarillo, Texas. He attended grammar school in Long Beach, Calif., and the family moved back to Texas in time for him to attend high school.

After receiving a B.A. degree in 1939 from the University of Texas, he spent a year 'roughnecking' on drilling rigs in the Texas oil fields.

He also supervised construction of a refinery, which was completed in 1940 -- the same year Wrather accepted the presidency of the family oil company after his father fell ill.

He joined the Marines in 1942, saw combat in the Pacific and retired in 1950 from the Marine Reserves with the rank of major.

In 1946, while president of Wrather Petroleum Corporation, a job he held until 1957, he formed and became president of Jack Wrather Pictures and Wrather Television Productions.

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'I ended up owning eight television stations and 12 radio stations, but I sold them when it became an operational business that didn't give me a lot of pleasure.' he said.

'It was a helluva business, a helluva business. I wish I hadn't sold now, because every year they double in value. But, I sold them when it wasn't fun anymore,' he said in 1978.

In 1954, he purchased rights to 'The Lone Ranger' and got a call from Walt Disney, who had sunk everything he had into Disneyland and didn't have the money to build a hotel next to his planned amusement park.

'I asked them why they didn't call Hilton or Sheraton, since I wasn't in the hotel business. They said they had called them, but they never heard of Anaheim and weren't interested,' Wrather said in 1978. Everyone, he said, laughed at his decision to build a 450-room complex in some orange groves in a California town nobody had heard of just because an amusement park was being built there.

Wrather unveiled a $72 million plan in 1981 to save the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose from the scrap heap, turning the transportation relics into a tourist site which he viewed as the last chance to save the ship, the plane and Long Beach's image.

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Wrather also owned the L'Horizon hotel in Palm Springs, large oil and gas interests in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, ranching and agricultural holdings in both Australia and the United States, and was a former owner of the famed Balboa Club in Newport Beach.

In 1970, he was appointed by President Carter to the National Petroleum Council advisory committee and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Wrather lived in the exclusive Holmby Hills area with his wife. They had three children.

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