Toronto Film Fest Founder Bill Marshall Dies at 77

TIFF founder Bill Marshall - P
Paul Alexander

He also produced 13 movies, including the Craig Russell-starrer 'Outrageous.'

Bill Marshall, a founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, has died. He was 77.

Marshall passed away Sunday in a Toronto hospital after a cardiac arrest, the festival said. Marshall and two friends, Henk van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl, launched the then Festival of Festivals in 1976 to bring American stars and the best of European cinema to a sophisticated Toronto audience.

Their first year saw 35,000 film lovers attending to watch 127 features from 30 countries. TIFF, which today is a familiar launching pad for Hollywood Oscar campaigns, annually features A-list talent such as Matt Damon, George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence.

"Without his tenacity and dedication, the Toronto International Film Festival would not be among the most influential public cultural festivals today," TIFF CEO Piers Handling said in a statement. "We were so fortunate to have Bill serve as one of our greatest champions for 41 years."

Marshall, who was born in 1939, immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1955. After a stint in Toronto civic politics, he turned to film production, where his movie credits included the Craig Russell-starrer Outrageous.

Marshall also produced numerous live theater shows, including the Toronto production of the hit musical Hair. He is survived by his wife, Sari Ruda; his children Lee, Stephen and Shelagh; and six grandchildren.