Chris Chesser, Producer on ‘Major League,’ Dies at 74

Chris Chesser, the film and documentary producer best known for bringing the iconic baseball comedy Major League to the big screen, has died. He was 74.

Chesser died suddenly Feb. 2 at his Los Angeles home, his brothers, Alan and Steve Chesser, announced. No cause of death was revealed.

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As a production executive, Chesser supervised such notable films as The Great Santini (1979), Caddyshack (1980), On Golden Pond (1981), Wolfen (1981), Arthur (1981), Sharky’s Machine (1981) and Excalibur (1981).

He supervised production on the British comedy Yellowbeard (1983), starring Graham Chapman, and helped develop Rob Reiner’s Spinal Tap (1984) at Embassy Pictures and Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice (1981) at Columbia Pictures.

Chesser and Irby Smith produced Paramount’s Major League (1989), which was written and directed by David S. Ward and starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes and Rene Russo.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his master’s from the American Graduate School of International Management, Chesser began his career in the movie business in 1974 as an executive in international sales for Columbia in New York.

He served as GM of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles in 1976, then joined the newly formed Orion Pictures as an executive assistant under studio co-founder Mike Medavoy, who would become a friend and mentor.

From 1980-83, Chesser served as vp production for Marble Arch Productions and head of production for Filmways under George Litto and Bobby Meyers until the company was acquired by Orion.

As an independent producer, Chesser executive produced Trans World Entertainment’s Kansas and Hemdale’s War Party, both released in 1988, and produced Trans World’s Eyes of an Angel (1991), starring John Travolta.

He and Alan Beattie launched Beattie/Chesser Productions to develop and produce films for theaters and television, and their first project was the 1990 NBC telefilm Silhouette, starring Faye Dunaway.

Beattie/Chesser also produced Jim McBride’s The Wrong Man (1993), which played at Cannes and starred John Lithgow and Rosanna Arquette; Carl Schenkel’s Exquisite Tenderness (1995), starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter Boyle and Charles Dance; and the 1997 HBO telefilm Under Pressure, starring Sheen and Mare Winningham.

The duo partnered with producer John Corry in 1996 to create documentary series programming including Secrets of War, hosted by Charlton Heston; The Color of War with Peter Coyote; and The Face of Evil: Reinhard Heydrich with Heston, all for the History channel; and Celebrity Wings, with Dennis Quaid and Hugh Hefner, for Discovery Networks.

In 2003, Chesser, Beattie and Corry served as executive producers for Universal’s The Rundown, starring Dwayne Johnson.

Chesser teamed again with Corry and Glasser from 2005-07 to produce Safari Tracks for MGM Television, The Long March for History and a 3D animated feature adaptation of The Ten Commandments starring Ben Kingsley, Christian Slater and Elliott Gould.

Chesser also produced Bloodwork (2012), starring Eric Roberts, and Absolutely Anything (2015), starring Robin Williams, Kate Beckinsale and Rob Riggle.

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