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'Smell-o-Vision' Movie Producer Dies

Michael Todd Jr., a stepson of actress Elizabeth Taylor who produced the only feature film ever shot in Smell-o-Vision, died in his rural Irish mansion, friends and officials said Thursday. He was 72.

Todd, son of the much better-known film producer of "Around the World in 80 Days," died of lung cancer Sunday. He was cremated Tuesday in Dublin with only his immediate family present, morgue officials said.

His final years in Ireland were dogged by failing health, said villagers near his home, where he lived since 1973. They said he was rarely seen after his leg was amputated last year because of diabetes.

"He'd come in an odd time for a gin," said Jim Dalton, proprietor of Ye Olde Pub in nearby Borris. "But everyone knew he was in a bad way. We never saw him after he lost the leg."

Born in Los Angeles in 1929, he was the only child of successful producer Michael Todd and his first wife, Bertha, who died in 1946.

The father sent his son to study philosophy at Amherst College, then groomed him to be a producer, eventually making him a vice president of his film company.

Todd Jr. was an assistant producer on his father's "This Is Cinerama," an early attempt to popularize 3-D technology. The son was credited with the film's most noteworthy sequence, featuring a camera mounted on the front of a rollercoaster.

He was just 28 when his father died in a plane crash in 1958. He shared the inheritance of his father's wealth with Taylor, then 26, who had married the elder Todd only the year before.

One of Todd Jr.'s first projects when he took charge of the production company was 1960's "Scent of Mystery," which starred Denholm Elliott and Peter Lorre — and a new reality-enhancing technology called Smell-o-Vision. It piped smells featured in the movie's scenes, such as pipe smoke or food, from tiny tubes beneath the filmgoers' seats.

The ads for "Scent of Mystery" trumpeted the technology as a landmark of film history: "First They Moved (1895)! Then They Talked (1927)! Now They Smell!"

But the critics dismissed it as an unpleasant gimmick, and it was never repeated in a feature-length film.

Todd Jr. had six children with his first wife, Sarah, whom he married in 1953. After her death in 1972, he married Susan McCarthy, with whom he had two sons.

He is survived by his wife, and a half-sister, Liza.