Rishawn Biddle writes: "Speaking of schlocky Hollywood producers, former Columbia Pictures svengali Ray Stark--producer of trash such as The Way We Were and The Sunshine Boys--took a dirt nap last night. "He was a power broker, but he used his power benignly," said one of his friends to Variety. Really? Tell that to onetime Hollywood star Cliff Robertson, who was virtually blackballed in Tinseltown after ratting out Stark's pal, Columbia president David Begelman, for embezzlment. The Begelman affair--and Stark's role in it--became Hollywood's biggest scandal of the Seventies. The only good thing about the tempest was that it led to David McClintick's Indecent Exposure, a classic of investigative journalism."

Nikki Finke writes in LA Weekly 1/22/04:

The first time I met Ray Stark, he threatened me. In the daily jousting between Hollywood business journalists and moguls, that’s nothing new. But Stark is still the only show-biz guy ever to threaten me with a smile. “Girlie,” (he always called me girlie, probably so he wouldn’t have to remember my name), “if you ever fuck me, I’m going to personally come over to your house and give you a hysterectomy.”

That’s why I wept upon hearing that Stark had died of heart failure early Saturday at age 88. We won’t see another like him anytime soon. Forget power, forget money: Stark wore the title of Most Vindictive Man in Hollywood more proudly than if he’d won an Academy Award. (He never did, only one of those Lifetime Achievement sops.) And what a pity that none of Stark’s pro forma obituaries captured the essence of the producer (Night of the Iguana, The Way We Were, The Goodbye Girl, Annie and Steel Magnolias) about whom it was said: “If you run him over, you’d better make sure he’s dead.”

Don’t feel left out if you’ve never heard of Ray Stark. That he wasn’t a household name is the truest measure of his power. For Stark, ever secretive, had always been the quintessential show-biz insider. To describe his unique position in Hollywood is to understand the role of Cardinal Richelieu in 17th-century France: a plotter lurking behind the throne whose whispers to kings guided decisions and crafted policies, all the while crushing, then punishing, and ultimately replacing disobedients.