Al Ruddy

Al Ruddy

Al Ruddy

Ruddy is a name synonymous with success. He began his career working for the Chicago Tribune where he rose to become one of the most influential editors in American journalism. In 1983, Ruddy founded BusinessWeek magazine and later became chairman of Time Inc., the parent company of TIME Magazine. Today, Ruddy serves on the board of directors of several companies including: The New York Times Company; ABC News; NBCUniversal; CBS Corporation; Discovery Communications; and the National Geographic Society.

Early life

Albert Samuel “Al” Ruddy was born on April 16, 1921, in New York City, to Ruth (nĕe Ruddy), a homemaker, and Hy Stotland, a lawyer. His parents divorced in 1923; he lived with his mother thereafter. He attended public schools in Manhattan, including Horace Mann School in Riverdale, Bronx, where he earned a reputation as a prankster. At age 14, he dropped out of school to work in a candy store. In 1938, he joined the United States Army Air Forces and served during World War II. After the war, he worked as a busboy at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

In 1947, he married Barbara (Barbara G.) Kowalski, whom he had met while working at the hotel. They settled into a home in Queens Village, Long Island, where they raised four children. In 1949, he began working for the New York Telephone Company. During his tenure there, he rose through the ranks to become vice president of marketing.

Ruddy became interested in politics around 1960, following the election of John F. Kennedy as President. He supported Kennedy’s campaign and campaigned for him throughout the state of New York. When Kennedy won the 1964 presidential election, Ruddy accompanied him to Washington, D.C., and helped organize his inaugural ball.

After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Ruddy organized a memorial service for him in Madison Square Garden. He subsequently became active in Democratic Party politics, serving as chairman of the party’s finance committee in 1965.

He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1966 and 1968. In 1970, he challenged incumbent Republican Senator Jacob Javits in the primary election. Although Ruddy lost, he gained attention for criticizing Javits’ support of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

In 1972, Ruddy ran again against Javits, this time successfully. He went on to win re-election five times, defeating both Republicans and Democrats. He retired from the Senate in 1986.

During his career in public office, Ruddy received several awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal from the White House Military Office and the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan. He died on October 9, 2017, at the age of 95.


Ruddy began his career working as a production assistant at CBS Productions, where he met producer Aaron Spelling. He later became a writer/producer for the network, creating such programs as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Starsky & Hutch. Ruddy left CBS in 1975 to work for Warner Bros., where he developed and executive produced Hogan’s Heroes, which aired on CBS beginning in 1965. During the show’s sixth season, Ruddy co-founded the production company Ruddy Entertainment, which went on to produce several successful TV movies and miniseries, including The Thorn Birds, Murder She Wrote, and Roots.

In 1983, Ruddy founded Ruddy Pictures, a production company specializing in family entertainment. His first feature film was 1985’s The Cotton Club, starring James Caan and Whoopi Goldberg. Other projects included Return To Oz, Silver Bullet, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Ruddy’s most recent productions include the comedy Daddy Day Camp and the drama The Perfect Storm.

Personal life

Ruddy was born in New York City, the son of Mary Elizabeth (née Breen; 1917–2007), a homemaker, and William Joseph Ruddy Jr., a lawyer. He attended Saint Ann School in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1952. While attending Harvard he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. After graduating from Harvard, Ruddy went on to receive his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School.

In 1953, Ruddy married Frenchwoman Françoise Ruddy (1925–2016). They had three daughters together: Olivia, Jane, and Alexandra. Their marriage lasted until 1960, when it became known that Ruddy was having an affair with actress Susan Hayward. Ruddy filed for divorce in 1961, citing “extreme cruelty”. On September 13, 1962, Ruddy married Wanda McDaniel, whom he met while filming The Manchurian Candidate. McDaniel is the daughter of former NFL player and coach Paul McDaniel. She gave birth to her and Ruddy’s twins, John and Alexandra, on April 12, 1963. The couple separated in 1965, and later divorced.

After divorcing McDaniel, Ruddy began dating actress Lauren Bacall in 1966. The relationship did not last long, however, because of Ruddy’s infidelity. Ruddy and Bacall remained friends throughout the rest of Bacall’s life.

In 1967, Ruddy married model and actress Patricia Kennedy Smith, sister of President John F. Kennedy. The couple had one child, Christopher Patrick Kennedy Ruddy (born 1968). The family lived in London during the early 1970s, and Ruddy worked as a producer for the BBC. However, the marriage fell apart in 1975, due to Ruddy’s alcoholism.

Ruddy remarried twice more. His second wife, Jacqueline Bouvier (daughter of socialite and author Peter Beard), died of cancer in 1978. Two years later, Ruddy wed actress Nancy Dowd, who was 15 years younger than him. The couple had no children together. Dowd died in 1986.

Ruddy was arrested in 1991 for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence.

In 1992, Ruddy married a third time, to American singer, songwriter, and actress Liza Minnelli. The couple had two sons together, Matthew and David, before separating in 1999.

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