Michael Deeley was born in London, England, in 1932. His father was an advertising executive while his mother worked for several film production companies.
After serving as a second lieutenant in the British Army stationed on the Malaysian Peninsula, he returned to England and, through his mother’s connections, became an assistant editor for Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Deeley produced his first film, a short-reel starring Peter Sellers, in 1956, at the age of 24. He joined MCA Universal in 1958 and headed their television film distribution arm before teaming up with producer Bruce Yorke and Avon Films in 1960.
Avon Films produced four films through 1964 before Deeley left to join the theatre/film producer Oscar Lewenstein’s Woodfall Film Productions. Woodfall had been behind several acclaimed movies, including Tom Jones (1963), winner of the Best Picture Academy Award.
Deeley only spent a year with Woodfall before joining actor Stanley Baker’s Oakhurst Productions. Oakhurst produced four films between 1967 and 1969, but the company was struggling financially by the 1970s and Deeley left to become an independent producer.
He returned when another venture of Baker’s purchased the movie distributor British Lion Films in 1973 and Deeley was asked to head the new acquisition. He brought in Barry Spikings and the two soon merged British Lion with EMI Films in 1976. The pair produced four movies together, including the Academy Award for Best Picture winner The Deer Hunter (1978).
Deeley left in 1979 to become one of the producers of the sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982).
Between 1985 and 1990, he was Head of Production for television movie producer Consolidated Entertainment.