The Passing of Mike Todd, Jr.
Obituaries from AP and New York Times
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: ||Date: January 9, 2004|
|Film producer and 70mm Newsletter subscriber Mike Todd, Jr. in his beloved Ireland. Private image courtesy Susan M. Todd|
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Michael Todd Jr., a stepson of actress Elizabeth Taylor who produced the only feature film ever shot in Smell-O-Vision, died in his rural Irish mansion, friends and officials said Thursday. He was 72. Todd, son of the much better-known film producer of "Around the World in 80 days", died of lung cancer Sunday. He was cremated Tuesday in Dublin with only his immediate family present, morgue officials said.
His final years in Ireland were dogged by failing health, said villagers near his home, where he lived since 1973. They said he was rarely seen after his leg was amputated last year because of diabetes.
"He'd come in an odd time for a gin",' said Jim Dalton, proprietor of Ye Olde Pub in nearby Borris. "But everyone knew he was in a bad way. We never saw him after he lost the leg.''
Born in Los Angeles in 1929, he was the only child of successful producer Michael Todd and his first wife, Bertha, who died in 1946. The father sent his son to study philosophy at Amherst College, then groomed him to be a producer, eventually making him a vice president of his film company. Todd Jr. was an assistant producer on his father's "This Is Cinerama", an early attempt to popularize 3-D technology. The son was credited with the film's most noteworthy sequence, featuring a camera mounted on the front of a rollercoaster.
He was just 28 when his father died in a plane crash in 1958. He shared the inheritance of his father's wealth with Taylor, then 26, who had married the elder Todd only the year before. One of Todd Jr.'s first projects when he took charge of the production company was 1960's "Scent of Mystery", which starred Denholm Elliott and Peter Lorre — and a new reality-enhancing technology called Smell-O-Vision. It piped smells featured in the movie's scenes, such as pipe smoke or food, from tiny tubes beneath the filmgoers' seats.
The ads for "Scent of Mystery" trumpeted the technology as a landmark of film history:
"First They Moved (1895)! Then They Talked (1927)! Now They Smell!''
But the critics dismissed it as an unpleasant gimmick, and it was never repeated in a feature-length film. Todd Jr. had six children with his first wife, Sarah, whom he married in 1953. After her death in 1972, he married Susan McCarthy, with whom he had two sons. He is survived by his wife, and a half-sister, Liza.
|Further in 70mm reading:|
Mike Todd Jr.'s "Scent of Mystery" in Smell-O-Vision
Mike Todd's "Around the World in 80 Days" in Todd-AO
Frumkes´ "An Interview with Mike Todd, Jr."
Letters and Dust Devils. Susan Jane Todd in Conversation
Oliver Michael Todd in Conversation
The Passing of Oliver Michael Todd
My father never really talked about the motion picture business. Cyrus Todd in Conversation
Working for Michael Todd
Oliver Michael Todd in Conversation with Thomas Hauerslev
Michael Todd Jr., Creator of Smell-O-Vision Movie, Dies at 72
By Paul Lewis, New York Times, Posted: Fri., May 10, 2002
|Michael Todd Jr., son of the producer of "Around the World in 80 Days," who took over his father's production business and made a Smell-O-Vision film that combined movies with changing odors, died on Sunday at his home in County Carlow, Ireland. He was 72. The cause was lung cancer, his wife, Susan McCarthy Todd, said.|
Released in 1960 and titled "Scent of Mystery" in the United States, but "Holiday in Spain" in Britain, the Smell-o-Vision film was a murder-adventure set in Spain during which smells related to the onscreen action where released into the theater. An early view of a monastery rose garden was accompanied by the scent of roses, while a shot of a woman perfuming herself brought the appropriate smell. When wine casks rolled down a hill and smashed against a wall, the odor of grape juice arrived. The smells were released through tiny pipes attached to the back of each seat.
Despite the gimmick, the film — starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Lorre and Diana Dors — was a flop. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called it an "artless, loose-jointed 'chase' picture set against some of the scenic beauties of Spain." As to the value of adding smells to the screen pictures, this was "dubious and dependent upon the noses of the individual viewers and the smell-projector's whims," he wrote.
• Go to "Holiday In Spain" released on Blu-Ray
Michael Todd Jr. was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 8, 1929, the only son of the theatrical and film producer Michael Todd and his first wife, Bertha Freshman, who died in 1946. His stepmothers were the actresses Joan Blondell and Elizabeth Taylor.
As a young man he worked for his father, helping with the distribution of his hit movie "Around the World in 80 Days". After his father's death in a plane crash in 1958, he took over the company and continued to develop Smell-O-Vision, which Michael Todd Sr. had first thought of when he was making an early wide-screen Cinerama picture.
The younger Mr. Todd produced no great theatrical or movie successes, but his inheritance from his father left him wealthy. In 1964 he produced a racially integrated minstrel show, called "America, Be Seated," for the New York World's Fair, but it closed after two performances. In 1953 he married the former Sarah Jane Weaver, who died in 1972. They had six children, who survive him: Cyrus, Susan, Sarah, Eliza Haselton, Daniel and Oliver.
Later in 1972 he married Susan McCarthy, who also survives him, along with their sons, Del and James. Mr. Todd is also survived by a half-sister, Liza. In 1973, he moved to Ireland with his family. In 1983 he published "A Valuable Property: The Life Story of Michael Todd" (Arbor House), an account of his father's life and career written with his wife Susan.
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