SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Legendary movie producer Saul Zaentz, died Friday at his San Francisco home due to complications of Alzheimer’s, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 92.
Nephew Paul Zaentz, a producer in his own right, confirmed his uncle’s passing. “He was an extraordinary man,” Paul Zaentz said. “He had a lot of guts, a lot of integrity.”
In 1955, Saul Zaentz joined Bay Area based Fantasy Records. In 1967, Zaentz along with the help of investors, purchased Fantasy Records and eventually making record label in to the largest jazz label in the world. Later, the label’s roster changed and signed Bay Area local act, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Soon after, the band exploded in popularity. Sadly, Zaentz and CCR lead singer John Fogerty would eventually go to court over Creedence’s publishing and some of Fogerty’s solo music.
Earnings from Fantasy Records lead Zaentz towards becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest and most successful producers. Most notably, Zaentz has won three Best Picture Academy Awards for 1975’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1984’s Amadeus” and 1996’s “The English Patient.” Zaentz also produced other films such as the 1978 animated version of “The Lord Of The Rings,” “The Mosquito Coast” starring Harrison Ford, “The Unbearable Lightness Of Being,” in 1988 and 2006’ “Goya’s Ghost” directed by Milos Forman.
Zaentz created The Saul Zaentz Film Center in 1980. An editing and sound-mixing studio for his own films, independent filmmakers and Hollywood productions located in Berkeley. The center was considered one of only three major film production facilities in Northern California, between Francis Ford Coppola’s “American Zoetrope” and George Lucas’ “Lucasfilm LTD.” The center has since been sold and became the Zaentz Media Center. The facility continues to house various media production companies, including The Saul Zaentz Company.
Zaentz is survived by his four children Dorian, Joshua, Athena and Johnnie and nephew Paul.