English movie mogul Harry Alan Towers, known in South Africa as one of the producers of Cry, the Beloved Country, died at the age of 88 on Saturday 1 August in hospital in Canada.
Towers produced more than 100 films, mostly in the low budget genre. He sometimes used the pseudonym Peter Welbeck.
A whole generation of South African filmmakers, technician s and actors began their careers working on films he executive produced in the country. His association with South Africa goes back to the early 60s with films such as Mozambique (1965); Victim Five aka Table Bay (1964); Death Drums Along the River aka Sanders (1963); Coast of Skeletons (1963).
Then for 20 years he had very little to do with South Africa until in the 1980s he began to produce films in association with Cannon and Nu Metro (which was headed by Avi Lerner at the time).
Films he produced from this period were Sumuru (2003); She (2001/I); Witness to a Kill aka Diamond Cut Diamond (USA) (2001); High Explosive (2000) Running Wild (1998) (TV) which he penned and shot in Zimbabwe; Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) with SA director Daryl Roodt; The Mummy Lives (1993); Incident at Victoria Falls (1992) (TV); The Lost World (1992); Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991); Oddball Hall (1990); Buried Alive (1990); Masque of the Red Death (1990); River of Death (1989); Ten Little Indians (1989) aka Death on Safari; Master of Dragonard Hill (1989); The House of Usher (1989); Outlaw of Gor (1989); American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989) aka Fair Trade (USA: TV title) with SA director Cedric Sundstrom; Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988); Platoon Leader (1988); Dragonard (1987); Gor (1987); Warrior Queen (1987); Skeleton Coast (1987).
South African producer John Stodel who worked with Towers recalls him as “a great story teller, incredibly astute, understood the biz inside out, a razor sharp mind and had a wicked sense of humour”.
Towers is survived by his wife of many decades, actress Maria Rohm.