B-movie science fiction producer Bernard Glasser died in Los Angeles this past Thursday. Glasser mainly produced low-budget sci-fi films from the 1950s and ’60s such as Return of the Fly and The Day of the Triffids. While it’s unclear how Glasser died, he passed away at 89 years old.
Glasser, a Chicago native, was a substitute teacher at Beverly Hills High School until he began producing movies in 1950. He reportedly borrowed money from his landlord to invest into Key West Studios lot in Hollywood. Key West Studios is unfortunately defunct. The first film Glasser produced was the 1951 Western Gold Raiders, which starred actor George O’Brien and the Three Stooges. The B-movie had a budget of $50,000 and was completely shot in five days. Glasser continued to lease Key West Studios to producers Burt Lancaster, who made the Western Apache in 1954, and Roger Corman, who produced the chase movie The Fast and the Furious (not that Fast and the Furious), also in 1954.
In 1958, Bernard Glasser’s lease on Key West expired, so he and director Edward Bernds joined forces to produce a number of films for Robert L. Lippert’s Regal Films, such as Space Master X-7 and the sequel film Return of the Fly, which also starred Vincent Price as Francois Delambre from the original film, in 1959. For special effects work on some of his films, Glasser hired Norman Maurer, a comic book artist and writer (and who was also the son-in-law of Moe Howard, of the Three Stooges). Maurer would later work on special effects and animation for a few sci-fi-themed Three Stooges short films, including The Three Stooges in Orbit in 1962.
Glasser later teamed up with Philip Yordan to produce 39 episodes for an adventure TV series called Assignment: Underwater from 1960 to 1962, while he also produced other sci-fi films such as 1963’s The Day of the Triffids, which was about killer plants preying on humans, and 1965’s Crack in the World, which starred Dana Andrews as a scientist who warns the population against deploying an atomic bomb underground.
As a frugal producer, Glasser kept his name off The Day of the Triffids so the film could qualify for a subsidy as a British production. Author Tim Weaver recalled Glasser’s exploits in the book Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews.
Bernard Glasser also received producer’s credit on films in the war genre such as 1964’s The Thin Red Line (not the Terrence Malick film, but based on the same source material from author James Jones) and 1965’s Battle of the Bulge. He also produced a few comedies like Bikini Paradise in 1967. Glasser even took a stab at directing with the 1970 drama Triangle, but later left the film industry altogether, after a 20-year career, to go into real estate.
Glasser was a graduate of Indiana State University and was honored with a distinguished alumni award in 2012. He is survived by four children and eight grandchildren. Tragically, Bernard Glasser’s son Richard died in 2010 after a long career in international film sales.