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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Filmmaker recorded Air Force One history

Elliott D. Sluhan, 71, a filmmaker and advertising executive who made two documentaries for public television about Air Force One, died Monday in University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital, from complications of a stroke.

Mr. Sluhan of South Toledo retired in 2000 as vice president of corporate communications for Master Chemical Corp., the Perrysburg firm founded in 1951 by his father, Clyde Sluhan.

The younger Mr. Sluhan made industrial and commercial films for much of his career. He was chairman of the former Focus Unlimited Inc., an advertising and sales promotion agency, and founder of Elliott Sluhan Productions.

Clients included Toledo glass companies and General Motors.

"He did a lot of work for General Motors [and] a lot of filming of the test cars," his son, John, said.

Mr. Sluhan announced plans in 1981 to make a documentary about Air Force One, the airplane aboard which the President of the United States flies.

Lowell Thomas, the world traveler and veteran broadcaster - and a friend - was to be the narrator. Mr. Thomas died, and actor James Stewart became narrator. It was Mr. Stewart who helped arrange a cinematic first, Mr. Sluhan's son said: an in-flight interview aboard Air Force One with President Ronald Reagan.

The film was broadcast in 1985. He completed a second documentary about Air Force One, broadcast in 1991, with Charlton Heston as narrator, and retired from filmmaking.

"He felt he told the story that needed to be told," his son said.

Mr. Sluhan made films while a student at Clay High School in Oregon. "He was always an artist," his son said.

He studied theater at Ohio Wesleyan University and film at Bob Jones University. He was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan.

Surviving are his wife, Maryann Sluhan, whom he married March 3, 1973; daughter, Sara Jane Baer; son, John E. Sluhan; mother, Marian Sluhan; sister, Sally Wright; brother, William Sluhan, and two grandsons.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in First Presbyterian Church of Maumee, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

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