Wilbur Stark (August 10, 1912 – August 11, 1995) was an American writer and film, television, and radio producer and director.
|Died||August 11, 1995 (aged 83)|
New York City, U.S.
|Occupation||Producer, director, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Kathi Norris (divorced)|
|Children||3, including Koo Stark|
Stark was born in Brooklyn and was the brother of Douglas Stark, an actor, Sheldon Stark, a writer, and Midge Stark, another producer. He was educated at the Manual Training High School and Columbia University. In 1935 he was hired by the Christian radio station WMCA, becoming a top salesman there.
Stark first made a name in the 1940s as producer of Movie Matinee, a radio quiz show on WOR, going on to produce more than 1,500 shows on radio and a thousand on television. By January 1950, Stark and Layton had produced nearly eight hundred network program episodes, many for DuMont. In December 1950, they announced that they were setting up separate offices, but would continue as partners splitting the packages and talent they already represented.
Stark's credits as a television producer included Colonel Humphrey Flack and Rocky King Detective in the 1950s and The Brothers Brannagan in 1960-61. Moving on to the film world, Stark was producer of Act of Reprisal (1964), My Lover, My Son (1970), All I Want Is You... and You... and You... (1974), Cat People (1982), and The Storyteller.
In 1983, Photoplay noted that Stark "makes a profitable habit of buying up good old movies for fashionable re-treads (such as Cat People, last year) is planning his own, more contemporary revision of Suspicion".
In 1945 he married Kathi Norris, who was then a radio writer, and they had two daughters, Pamela and Koo, and two sons, Wilbur Junior, known as Brad, and Patrick. The family moved to London in the 1960s, beginning a new life. There the elder daughter was pursued by Sir William Pigott Brown, but according to Private Eye "So vile were Piggott-Brown's attentions and habits that Stark bought him off, presenting the reptile with a cheque for 500 dollars." However, the offender framed the cheque and hung it on his wall. Pamela graduated from Goddard College and Harvard, became a consultant to non-profit organizations, and married Sheldon Guyer, a vice president of Merrill Lynch, in 1993.
Stark and his wife separated and divorced in the 1960s.
In 1980, Fantasy Newsletter reported that Stark had bought the rights to several old RKO fantasy films, intending to remake them. It suggested the most significant of these purchases was The Thing From Another World. When The Thing (1982) came to be made, Stark was executive producer.
- Wilbur Stark, TV Producer, 81 in The New York Times dated August 14, 1991
- Jacob Levich, The Motion Picture Guide 1996 Annual: The Films of 1995 (1996), p. 380
- Radio Daily, Volume 25 (1943), p. 44: "Wilbur Stark Inducted / Wilbur Stark, ace salesman for WMCA, was inducted into the Army yesterday."
- Ryan Ellett, Radio Drama and Comedy Writers, 1928-1962 (2017), p. 182
- David Weinstein, The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television (2006), p. 182
- 'Stark, Layton Split Agency' in Billboard dated December 2, 1950, p. 4, col. 2
- Photoplay Movies & Video, Volume 34, Issues 6-12 (1983), p. xi
- Radio Daily - Volume 31 (1945), p. 55: "Wilbur Stark, WMCA time salesman, getting hitched this morning to Kathleen I. Norris — the radio writer, not the author, natch."
- The Billboard dated August 30, 1952, p. 44, col. 1
- Private Eye - Issues 523-549 (1982), p. 38
- WEDDINGS; Pamela Stark, Sheldon Guyer in New York Times dated August 29, 1993, accessed 17 November 2017
- Fantasy Newsletter, Volume 3, Issues 20-31 (1980), p. 12
- Ian Conrich, David Woods, The Cinema of John Carpenter: The Technique of Terror (2004), p. 184
- Gyles Brandreth, Something Sensational to Read in the Train (2009), p. 257