Mel Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn

AP Photo/Walter Attenni, file

A commanding screen presence, Mel Ferrer played the role of the brooding Latin lover to a T, both in his work and personal life.

The star of the epic period dramas War and Peace and The Sun Also Rises and first husband to iconic leading lady Audrey Hepburn died Monday at a convalescent home not far from his ranch in Carpinteria, Calif. He was 90.

Son Mark Ferrer said his dad had been in failing health for about six months.

"It's a sad occasion, but he did live a long and productive life," family spokesman Mike Mena said Tuesday.

In the 1950s, Ferrer, who was no relation to fellow screen stars José and Miguel Ferrer, brought his tall, dark and handsome presence to the literary roles of King Arthur in 1953's Knights of the Round Table, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in King Vidor's War and Peace, Robert Cohn in the 1957 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and the Marquis de Maynes in the French-revolution-set Scaramouche.

The New Jersey-born actor of Cuban descent, who later moved behind the camera to direct and behind the checkbook to produce, also starred opposite Leslie Caron in the musical Lili, which won an Oscar in 1953 for Best Musical Score.

Having a way with the ladies onscreen and off, Ferrer walked down the aisle five times.

During his 14-year-marriage to Hepburn (wife No. 4), he starred opposite her in War and Peace and the TV movie Mayerling, directed her in the romantic adventure Green Mansions and produced the thriller Wait Until Dark, in which Hepburn played a blind woman being terrorized in her apartment by ruthless drug dealers. The couple had one son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

Ferrer is survived by his wife of 37 years, Elizabeth Soukhotine, five children and several grandchildren.

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