Jack Harris, the producer of the seminal 1950s monster movie The Blob, died earlier today at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 98.
Born in Philadelphia, Yeaworth got his start in show business at the age of six, as a child performer in Gus Edwards’ Kiddie Revue vaudeville show. As an adult he became active as a theatrical publicist.
Harris became interested in producing when he got into a argument with Rocketship X-M Robert L Lippert. Harris said that Lippert’s movies were “lousy” and hard to promote. Lippert responded that if Harris thinks he could do a better job than he should. While on tour promoting a Boy Scout-themed film Jamboree, Harris began cultivating the idea for what kind of movie he should make. He realized that both science-fiction and juvenile delinquency films were two genres that seemed to always turn a profit.
Teaming with Irvin “Shorty” Yeaworth, a director of short religious films based outside of Valley Forge who was looking to make a feature that could infuse some cash into his production company, Harris put the wheels in motion that would eventually result in 1958’s The Blob. The film was shot in the Philadelphia suburbs of Phoenixville, Downingtown and Royersford. Made for just $240,000, the film would go on to gross over $4 million.
Harris would reteam with Yeaworth a year for the science-fiction thriller The 4-D Man, which would again see them shooting in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Harris also exhibited an eye for upcoming talent, producing 1970’s Equinox, co-directed by future multiple Academy Award-winning special effects wizard Dennis Murren, Schlock, the 1973 directorial debut of John Landis, and Dark Star, the feature debuts of co-writers and co-directors John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon.
Harris would return to The Blob for a 1972 sequel, Beware! The Blob, directed by Larry Hagman, the 1989 remake and reportedly had been in active in the more recent attempt to get a second remake launched.