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Movie Director Henry Hathaway Dies at 86

February 12, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Film maker Henry Hathaway, who worked his way up from prop man to director and helped John Wayne win his only Oscar in ″True Grit,″ died follwing a heart attack. He was 86.

Hathaway died Monday afternoon at the UCLA Medical Center, where he was admitted two weeks ago following the heart attack, hospital officials said.

Hathaway, who began directing low-budget Westerns in 1932, made 60 films, including such classics as ″The Desert Fox,″ the 1951 film about World War II German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel starring James Mason, ″The Lives of a Bengal Lancer,″ the 1935 adventure starring Gary Cooper and ″Call Northside 777,″ the mystery with James Stewart in 1948.

″True Grit″ in 1969 was one of six John Wayne films he directed, including ″Sons of Katie Elder,″ ″North to Alaska,″ ″The Legend of the Lost,″ ″Circus World″ and ″How the West Was Won,″ which Hathaway co- directed with John Ford and George Marshall.

Born in 1898 as Henri Leopold de Fiennes in Sacramento, Hathaway was the son of a vaudeville actress and a stage manager.

The family moved to Hollywood, and he became an actor at age 10, performing in short Westerns. He quit school at 16 to work at a soda fountain in suburban Venice, got a job through his mother at Universal Studios and worked his way up from prop man to assisting such pioneer directors as Josef von Sternberg and Victor Fleming. He credited Fleming with giving him his first big break as a director.

In 1932, Hathaway began directing low-budget Westerns, many starring Randolph Scott, under such titles as ″Wild Horse Mesa,″ ″Heritage of the Desert,″ ″Thundering Herds″ and ″Sunset Pass.″

Other films included ″The Trail of the Lonesome Pine″ with Henry Fonda in 1936, ″Brigham Young″ with Tyrone Power in 1940, ″Rawhide″ with Power in 1951, ″Prince Valiant″ with Robert Wagner and Sterling Hayden in 1954, ″Airport″ with Burt Lancaster in 1969 and a ″Desert Fox″ sequel of sorts, ″Raid on Rommel″ in 1971 with Richard Burton.

Survivors include Hathaway’s wife of 53 years, Blanche, son Jack, a granddaughter and two stepgrandchildren. Funeral services were pending.