Russell Doughten, evangelical filmmaker, dies at 86
CARLISLE – Russell S. Doughten Jr., whose series of evangelical films about a post-rapture Earth was screened to millions of Christians in churches around the world, has died. He was 86.
Doughten died Monday at his home in Carlisle following a long battle with a kidney ailment, Peterson Funeral Home confirmed Saturday.
Although Doughten worked on various secular films – he helped produce the 1958 science fiction classic “The Blob,” among other films – he was best known for his four-part film series about what life on Earth might be like after the rapture, or end of times, The Des Moines Register reported.
Evangelicals think true believers will ascend to heaven and those left behind will fight a war between Jesus and the Antichrist.
The series, which began with 1972’s “A Thief in the Night,” follows a young woman who is among the non-believers left behind. Doughten appeared in the movie and its three sequels as a pastor with weak faith who doesn’t ascend to heaven. The long, wiry beard he wore in the film was his trademark throughout much of his career.
Like much of Doughten’s work, the series was shot in Iowa. Former Iowa Film Office head Wendol Jarvis said Doughten strived to make the state a filmmaking destination.
“A lot of people learned their trade from Russ Doughten,” Jarvis said. “He was a man who believed in his message and loved his trade. He was very generous to the people he worked with, and he was never one to boast about anything he did.”
Doughten also produced the 1967 crime thriller “The Hostage,” which starred John Carradine, father of “Kung-Fu” star David Carradine. And he made “Fever Heat,” a story about the thrills of stock car racing, filmed in Stuart, Iowa.
Doughten was born en route to the Iowa Falls hospital on Feb. 16, 1927. He graduated from Chester High School and studied drama at Drake University in Des Moines, where he met his wife of 63 years, Gertrude Sprague.
Doughten is survived by his wife, three sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.