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Martin Ritt, the maverick director of "Norma Rae," "The Front" and "The Long Hot Summer" who once was blacklisted in Hollywood, died Saturday of complications from heart disease.

The director of 25 films and 250 television shows died in Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center, said Chuck Warn, spokesman for the Directors Guild of America.

His family said he was 76 years old, Warn said, but studio and other biographies list him as 70.

Ritt never shied from controversial issues, such as racial prejudice in "Sounder," blacklisting in "The Front" and labor rights in "The Molly Maguires" and "Norma Rae."

Ritt worked on live television shows until he was blacklisted in the 1950s.

He made his first feature, "Edge of the City," with Sidney Poitier in 1957. One year later, he filmed Faulkner's "The Long Hot Summer" and "The Sound and the Fury." His other top films include "Hombre," "Hud" and "Murphy's Romance."

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