Robert Blees, Writer of Sirk’s ‘Magnificent Obsession,’ Dies at 96
By Carmel Dagan
February 5, 2015
Robert Blees, a writer and producer for film and television who penned the screenplays for Douglas Sirk’s 1954 classic “Magnificent Obsession” and Joan Crawford film “Autumn Leaves,” died January 31 in Menlo Park, Calif. He was 96.
Over the course of a show business career lasting more than four decades, Blees amassed a considerable number of credits in television, from “Damon Runyon Theater,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Peter Gunn,” “Zane Grey Theater” and “Kraft Suspense Theater” to the 1985 TV movie “Gidget’s Summer Reunion.” He was a producer of series including “Combat,” “Bonanza” and “Cannon.”
Blees also served for decades on the board of the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
“While my tenure on MPTF’s board overlapped Bob Blees’ for only a few years, it didn’t take long to appreciate his grace and intellect as well as his compassion for the people of our industry,” said MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher. “Bob served the entertainment industry through his tireless dedication as a board member which spanned 30 years.”
In addition to his work with the MPTF, Blees was a former board member of Writers Guild of America West and the Producers Guild of America.
Blees was Phi Beta Kappa at Dartmouth College and worked for Time and Life magazines before turning to screenwriting and producing. During World War II he served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Blees is survived by a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by his daughter, Kristie, in 1995, and his wife of 56 years, Dorothy, a story analsst at several major studios who died in 1997.
Donations in Blees’ memory may be made to MPTF or Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
BLEES, Robert (Robert Sherwood Blees)
Born: 6/9/1918, Lathrop, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 1/31/2015, Menlo Park, California, U.S.A.
Robert Blees’ westerns – producer, screenwriter:
The Yellow Mountain – 1954 [adaptation]
Cattle Queen of Montana – 1954 [screenwriter]
Zane Grey Theater (TV) – 1960 [screenwriter]
Bonanza (TV) – 1967-1968 [producer]