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He wasn't the man who put the 'Cool' in Colini (that was Henry Silva), but credit director William Asher for providing Americans with some of the fluffiest movies (and TV shows) the '60's produced.

Emmy-winning television producer and director William Asher has died at a board and care facility in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 90.

Beginning with The Colgate Comedy Hour, Our Miss Brooks and I Love Lucy, Asher went on to produce and direct over two dozen television series. He co-created the sitcom The Patty Duke Show and produced Bewitched, which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery. (Montgomery wasn't his only celebrity bride; the third Mrs. Asher was the ebullient Joyce Bulifant, Match Game regular and supporting player on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

On the big screen Asher was the auteur behind such consummate Frankie and Annette outings as Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, and Beach Blanket Bingo.

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Asher's biggest claim to fame (or shame) was the inadvertently laughable crime flick, Johnny Cool (1963). Karate-chopping tough guy Henry Silva stars as Cool, a Sicilian hit man trained in his youth by American mafioso Johnny Colini (Marc Lawrence) to act as his successor.

Silva is joined by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop making this the best Rat Pack picture not to feature Frank and Dean. Also along for the ride are Jim Backus, Telly Savalas, Mort Sahl, and, of course, Mrs. Asher as the love interest/designated rape victim.

Sadly, the film has never been released on home video in any format, so a visit to Kensington Video to check out a VHS copy will prove fruitless.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Asher retired from show business in 1991 and went to live in La Quinta and Indian Wells with his fourth wife, Meredith. She was by his side when he died Monday.

UPDATE

Peter Nellhaus at Coffee, Coffee, and More Coffee informs me that Johnny Cool has been released on MGM BOD!

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Comments

Colonna July 18, 2012 @ 5:44 p.m.

His last theatrical movie was "Movers & Shakers" in 1985. Written by Charles Grodin (who takes second billing to Walter Matthau), there are various clips to watch online if you do a "Movers and Shakers 1985" search on Google.

How do I know about this movie? Grodin was a guest programmer on TCM and had the audacity to introduce his own movie:

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/186916/Movers-and-Shakers-Movie-Intro-Outro-Charles-Grodin.html

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Scott Marks July 19, 2012 @ 12:21 p.m.

How do I know this movie? I was living in Glendale in 1985. My mom came to visit and this was the only thing playing that seemed even remotely suitable. We saw it in the Little Chinese. Mom never forgave me. She expected more from the architect of "Cool."

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