BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Movie producer Robert Arthur, whose 40 films included Abbott and Costello comedies and the series about the talking mule 'Francis,' died at his home Tuesday after a long illness. He was 76.
Born Robert Feder in New York City, Arthur left the East Coast to attend the University of Southern California. He worked as an oil operator before joining MGM as a screenwriter in 1937.
A friend of film industry giant Lou Wasserman and President Reagan, Arthur was described by friends as quiet and kind.
He was 'the antipathy of a Hollywood mogul,' said publicist Bill Feeder.
Arthur produced films for MGM, Universal, and Columbia, making pictures with stars including Cary Grant, Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Stewart, Doris Day, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, James Garner and Donald O'Connor.
He produced Bobby Darin's first picture, 'Come September,' and while at Universal produced the Donald O'Connor series of movies about 'Francis,' the talking mule.
Arthur began producing films in 1947, mostly for Universal. His first production assignment was 'Buck Privates Come Home,' starring the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, with whom he made several hit comedies.
He also produced such 1940s and '50s films as 'Francis,' 'The Big Heat,' 'The Long Gray Line,' 'Man of a Thousand Faces,' 'The Perfect Furlough' and 'Operation Petticoat,' starring Cary Grant.
Other films included 'The Spiral Road,' 'Father Goose,''Bedtime Story,' 'Lover Come Back,' 'Blindfold, ' 'The King's Pirate' and 'Sweet Charity.'
His last film was 'One More Train to Rob,' starring George Peppard and Diana Muldaur, in 1971.