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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dick Ross, pioneer producer of Christian films and television has passed away

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WESTLAKE, CA (ANS) -- Dick Ross, a pioneer producer of Christian films and television passed away on Saturday, March 14th at a hospice in Westlake, California at the age of 90.

Dick Ross

Ross led the way for future filmmakers by producing the first Christian feature film, Mr. Texas that premiered in the Hollywood Bowl in 1951 to an overflow audience. With the bowl filled, traffic was backed up for several miles. Cecil B de Mille sat with Billy Graham in the audience.

Rossís long career producing Christian films and television programs began shortly after World War II when he returned to America from spending over eight months in Stalag Luft 3, a prisoner of war camp about 70 miles from Berlin. Later, he was transferred to Austria, where Hitler thought he might use the prisoners as pawns.

As a WWII Navigator on a B-54 airplane, Dick was shot down over Germany.

Prior to the War he had worked for the Mutual Don Lee Network and upon returning home they hired him to help launch their television outreach, establishing KHJ, Channel 2 in Hollywood. He also assisted them in Chicago.

Being a strong Christian who wanted to use his talents for the Lord, he joined Moody Institute of Science where he worked for three years.

Following that, in 1949 he formed his own film company, Great Commission Films and his first assignment was for Bob Pierce in putting together the film, China Challenge.

This led to work with Billy Graham and the producing of the 1950 Portland Story, based on the Portland, Oregon Billy Graham Crusade.

Dick then went to work full time for Billy Graham, first establishing Billy Graham Films and then Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures. Scores of films and television programs followed.

Dick Ross left World Wide pictures in 1964 after producing the theatrical feature film, The Restless Ones. That film saw over 650,000 decisions for Christ of people who came forward at the invitation in theatres across America.

Ross created the Oral Robertís Prime Time specials that ran for seven years in the 60ís and 70ís. For ten years he also created and produced the Kathryn Kulhlman television programs that ran each week nationwide.

Dan Wooding with Joan and Bill Brown

Bill Brown followed Dick Ross as President of World Wide Pictures. (Brown produced The Hiding Place and Joni among many other films for Billy Graham)

Today Brown said, "Dick Ross was an amazing talent for the Lord. He raised the level of Christian film and television production to a very high standard. Those of us who followed him admired him. He had the ability to challenge us, as Christians, to produce films and television programs better than ever done before."

Joan Winmill Brown, an English actress converted in Billy Graham's 1954 London Crusade called Ross a "genius" in the work he did.

"Shortly after I came to the Lord," she said, "Dick Ross gave me my first Christian acting role as the lead actress in his 1954 feature Souls In Conflict. Dick Ross was a spiritual Ďgentle giantí who would pray before we shot each scene. Working with him was a joy I had never before experienced in the movie industry. I thank our Lord that I had the privilege of working with him.

Joan, who is married for Bill Brown, added, ďFor over fifty years Dick and his wife Wanda have been treasured friends in Christ. Now with his beloved Savior, Dick's memory will live on as his films continue to be shown around the world."

Dick is survived by his wife Wanda, a son Rick of California and daughter Sylvia of Colorado. He had four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.


Dan Wooding, 68, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 45 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS); and US Bureau Chief for the Missionaries News Service (www.missionariesnews.tv) and Safe Worlds IPTVís Faith, Hope and Charity channel. He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC., and now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California and which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on UCB UK and Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. E-mail: danjuma1@aol.com.

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