James D. Brubaker, who started out as a driver for John Wayne movies and went on to amass producing credits on high-profile titles including “The Right Stuff,” “Cobra” and “Rocky IV,” died Jan. 3 in Beverly Hills, Calif. after a series of strokes. He was 85.
Brubaker produced three movies with Eddie Murphy: “The Nutty Professor,” “The Klumps” and “Life,” in which he had a cameo appearance as the judge.
Jim Carrey starred in two movies he produced, “Liar, Liar” and “Bruce Almighty.”
His other production credits include “A Walk in the Clouds,” “Dragonfly” with Kevin Costner and “Gia” with Angelina Jolie.
He served as unit production manager on films including “Raging Bull,” “Comes a Horseman,” “New York, New York,” “Rhinestone,” “True Confessions,” “Patty Hearst,” “Godfather Part II” and “Staying Alive.” His final credit was as executive producer on “Chef,” starring Jon Favreau.
From 2003 to 2008, Brubaker served as president of physical production at Universal Studios, supervising more than 50 films in 14 countries.
Brubaker started out in the industry driving horses to John Wayne movie locations in Mexico as a Teamster, and also was a driver for “Harold and Maude” and “Diamonds Are Forever.”
After driving for the first “Rocky” movie, he moved up to serving as production manager on the second, associate producer on the third and executive producer of “Rocky IV.”
Often called “Bru” by his colleague, he served in the Army and studied at Cal State L.A. before taking a job as a driver for MGM.
He served on the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Directors Guild of America, and The Producers Guild of America. He also lectured at UCLA and USC film schools and provided training opportunities for disadvantaged youth on his film sets.
Brubaker is survived by his wife of 30 years, Marcy Kelly, three children: Marcei Brubaker Brown; Susan Brubaker Gublet; John Alden Brubaker; and five grandchildren. His stepson Michael James Kelly predeceased him. Donations in his memory can be made to streetlights.org, a nonprofit that trains young people from diverse backgrounds for jobs in film production.
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