Rutgers graduate Ray Stark wrote for newspapers, radio and publicity firms before becoming a literary agent. Through his marriage to the daughter of comedienne Fanny Brice, Stark came in close contact with the showbiz set. In the '50s, he functioned as a talent agent for Famous Artists, and in 1957, in partnership with Eliott Hyman, he formed the independent movie firm Seven Arts. Stark's first film production was 1960's The World of Suzie Wong, which he followed up with such hot-and-cold efforts as Night of the Iguana (1965) and Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1966). His track record was more consistent after his 1968 filmization of Funny Girl, a musical based on the life of his mother-in-law Fanny Brice. Breaking away from Seven Arts to form Rastar Productions, Stark retained his association with Funny Girl star Barbra Streisand for a brace of subsequent features, The Way We Were (1974) and Funny Lady (1975). In 1975, Stark entered into a fruitful association with playwright Neil Simon, resulting in such audience-pleasing film efforts as The Sunshine Boys (1975), The Goodbye Girl (1977), and Murder by Death (1978). With the disastrous Stark/Simon collaboration The Slugger's Wife (1985), the party seemed to be over, but both producer and playwright were back on the beam with Brighton Beach Memoirs (1985) and Biloxi Blues (1988). Ray Stark's last production to date was the 1989 all-star Steel Magnolias, directed by Herbert Ross, a veteran of the Simon films.