*Partially excerpted from US Naval Academy magazine,
and other sources.
Ted Hartley was born and raised an Iowa farm boy,
but his dreams were far from the farm. At age 14, he entered and
won an essay contest sponsored by Warner Brothers. His prize-winning,
50-word essay, "Why I Would Like to Fly," earned him flying lessons.
Hartley attended Shattuck Military School in Minnesota,
and at age 16, was appointed to the Naval Academy, hoping to pursue
his love of aviation. While at Annapolis, he was involved with a
variety of activities ranging from being editor-in-chief of The
Log, a member of the Class Policy Committee, co-designer of the
Academy Christmas card and commander of the Academy yawl Alert.
He was on the wrestling team and was a U.S. Olympic finalist in
As a commissioned officer, Hartley had tours as a
congressional liaison for the Pentagon, as a Presidential aide,
and as a carrier-based pilot. But in May 1964, Ted Hartley's promising
Navy career ended when his F9F8 fighter jet crashed from a carrier
landing accident. Thrown from the plane, Hartley suffered a broken
back and was medically retired from the Navy.
Ted Hartley took what most people would consider a
big disappointment and turned it into an opportunity. He attended
Harvard Business School and pursued a career in investment banking.
He worked his way up to vice president in First Western Financial
Corporation, but was fired over his strong objection to a program
his boss was promoting.
Once again, Hartley bounced back, seeing this "transition"
as an opportunity to pursue another of his boyhood dreams, acting.
He appeared on the successful television show, Peyton Place, playing
the character of the Reverend Jerry Bedford. He also had roles in
several movies with Cary Grant, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood and
others before landing his own TV series in the late 1970s called
Chopper One. The show eventually was cancelled and he again found
He left Hollywood for Aspen, Colorado, where he became
the managing artistic director of a local theatre. He was involved
with all aspects of operations and enjoyed a successful winter season.
But when the snow leaves, so do the crowds, so Hartley returned
to investment banking.
Hartley was a partner in Pavilion Communications Inc.
- a company that bought out or re-financed smaller entertainment
companies. When RKO came to his attention in 1990, Hartley looked
for a way to re-build the company. A former giant in the industry,
RKO had been in decline since Howard Hughes took over in 1948, slowing
production and gradually changing the emphasis from film to television
and radio programming. By 1991, he had merged Pavilion with RKO
Pictures Corporation, recapitalized and restructured the company,
which has led to the current re-emergence of RKO Pictures, LLC as
an important independent studio.
As chairman and chief executive office of RKO Pictures,
Hartley has led RKO's worldwide development and production activities
in movies and television as well as the expansion of the RKO brand
to the stage and other entertainment and distribution venues.
Bringing his experiences from the world of finance
together with his knowledge of the film business from both sides
of the camera, Hartley provides RKO Pictures with a dynamic and
diverse vision. He presides over a varied slate of RKO films from
development through post-production until they reach the audience.
In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Hartley produced
the 1998 RKO classic film Mighty Joe Young with Disney (1998), Ritual
with Miramax (2000), Magnificent Ambersons (2002), Shade, starring
Sylvester Stallone (2003) and the Broadway musical Never Gonna Dance
Hartley belongs to a number of motion picture and
television guilds and associations, including the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts & Sciences and Screen Actors Guild. He is a board member
of the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation and serves as
director of the Harvard Business School Association of Southern
California. Hartley is also a frequent lecturer and is published
periodically in business journals. He is also a published poet as
well as a creator of stories for the screen.
Hartley and his wife, Dina
Merrill, are the founders of The Story Project and the Hartley-Merrill
International Screenwriting Award. Ted Hartley is the father of
one son and lives in Southern California.
Hills 213 – 1994
Hills 213 – 1998
Hills 213 - 1990