Jerome Courtland Cause of Death: A Tribute to the Actor, Director and Producer

Jerome Courtland was a versatile and talented figure in the entertainment industry, who had a long and successful career as an actor, director and producer. He passed away on March 1, 2012, at the age of 85, due to heart disease. This article pays tribute to his life and achievements, and remembers some of his most notable works.

Early Life and Acting Career

Jerome Courtland was born as Courtland Jourolmon Jr. on December 27, 1926, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was interested in acting from a young age, and got his first break when he met director Charles Vidor at a Hollywood party, who invited him to do a screen test at Columbia Pictures. He signed a seven-year contract with the studio, and made his feature debut in Vidor’s 1944 comedy Together Again. He then joined the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

After the war, he resumed his acting career, and starred opposite Shirley Temple in Kiss and Tell (1945). He also appeared in more than a dozen films, such as The Man From Colorado (1948), Battleground (1949), The Palomino (1950), The Barefoot Mailman (1951), and Take the High Ground (1953). He was a licensed pilot and trained in stunt flying. In 1951, he starred on Broadway as the romantic lead in the musical Flahooley, with Barbara Cook.

He also ventured into television, and was frequently seen in guest roles on Westerns, such as The Rifleman, Death Valley Days and The Virginian. In 1957, he starred in six episodes of ABC’s Disneyland in the miniseries The Saga of Andy Burnett, the story of a Pittsburgh man who comes west to the Rocky Mountains. This was an attempt by Walt Disney to follow up on the success of the first television miniseries, Davy Crockett. He also sang the title song for the movie Old Yeller (1957), and narrated the Oscar-nominated short Noah’s Ark (1959).

In 1959, he played the role of Army Lt. Henry Nowlan in the Disney film Tonka, and starred in the 1959-1960 television series Tales of the Vikings, as the lead character, Leif. He dyed his hair and beard blonde for the role. The series was produced by Kirk Douglas’ film production company Brynaprod, and ran for 39 episodes.

Directing and Producing Career

In the 1960s, Courtland shifted his focus to directing and producing, and worked for more than 25 years at Walt Disney Studios and Screen Gems. He produced feature films, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Ride a Wild Pony (1975), Return From Witch Mountain (1978), Pete’s Dragon (1977), and The Devil and Max Devlin (1981). He also produced television series, such as Here Come the Brides, The Flying Nun, The Partridge Family, and The Interns, and television movies, such as Gidget Grows Up (1969), Hog Wild (1980), and The Million Dollar Dixie Deliverance (1978).

He left Disney in the early 1980s, and joined Aaron Spelling’s production company, where he directed episodes of popular shows, such as Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel, The Colbys, and Knots Landing. He also guest starred on L.A. Law and Knots Landing in the early 1990s.

In 1997, he moved to the Chicago area, where he taught acting and directing for the camera at Columbia College for five years. He then retired in Florida, where he authored and illustrated children’s books.

Legacy and Family

Jerome Courtland was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for more than 30 years. He was married three times, first to actress Polly Bergen, then to Janet Rose Gumprecht, with whom he had three sons, and finally to Marlene Juttner. He also had two daughters, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

He died of heart disease on March 1, 2012, in Santa Clarita, California. He was remembered by his fans and colleagues as a charming, talented, and versatile entertainer, who left behind a rich and diverse body of work.

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