Dick Shepherd | Film producer, 86
Movie producer Dick Shepherd, 86, whose credits include Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), The Fugitive Kind (1960), and Robin and Marian (1976), died Tuesday of kidney failure, said his wife, Patty.
Mr. Shepherd probably saved one of the most popular film songs of all time. After a test screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Paramount executive Marty Rackin gathered the creative team and said, "I loved the picture," as recounted in the 2010 Sam Wasson book, Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. But there was one problem. Rackin hated the plaintive ballad, "Moon River," that star Audrey Hepburn sings in the movie. In colorful language, Rackin said the song "has to go."
Mr. Shepherd was soft-spoken and known for approaching problems in a quiet manner. But at this point, he rose to his feet and said, in no uncertain terms, "You'll cut that song over my dead body." Rackin backed down, and "Moon River," written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, went on to win the Oscar for best song and Grammy for song of the year.
Mr. Shepherd, who was born Richard Allen Silberman in Kansas City, Mo., and attended Stanford University, also spent time as a studio executive and as an agent. - Los Angeles Times