Arthur Marks, ‘Perry Mason’ and Blaxploitation Director, Dies at 92

Dave McNary

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Prolific producer and director Arthur Marks, who worked on “Perry Mason” and blaxploitation movies including “Detroit 9000” and “Friday Foster,” has died. He was 92.

Marks died Nov. 13 at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif. His son, “Narcos” producer Paul Marks, confirmed his passing to Variety.

Marks was a native of Los Angeles who was born in 1927 into a show business family. His grandparents were actors in silent pictures and his father, Dave Marks, worked as an MGM assistant director and production manager who worked on “The Wizard of Oz” and “Easter Parade.” Arthur Marks worked as a child actor, getting work as an extra and bit player on “The Good Earth” (1937), “Boys Town” (1938) and Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy series.

Marks joined the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy during World War II and served with the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He began working in the production department at MGM, became a member of the Directors Guild of America in 1952 and worked as an assistant director at Columbia and on the TV shows “Casablanca” and “Broken Arrow.”

Marks directed 76 episodes of the CBS legal drama “Perry Mason,” starring Ramon Burr, and produced 145 episodes between 1958 and 1966. He also directed the films “Togetherness” (1970), “Bonnie’s Kids” (1972), “Class of ’74” (1972), “The Roommates” (1973), “A Woman for All Men” (1975) and “Linda Lovelace for President” (1975), along with episodes of “I Spy,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Mannix” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Besides “Detroit 9000” and “Friday Foster,” Marks also directed blaxploitation titles “Bucktown,” starring  Pam Grier; “J.D.’s Revenge,” a horror film starring Glynn Turman; and “The Monkey Hustle,” starring Yaphet Kotto. He was president of General Film Corp., which distributed many of his blaxploitation titles as well as “The Candy Snatchers” and “The Zebra Killer.”

“Detroit 9000,” starring Alex Rocco and Hari Rhodes, received a re-release from Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures in 1998.

Survivors include his sons Paul and Beau; daughters Kathleen and Elizabeth; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis.

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