Music executive and film producer Saul Zaentz dies at 92

Sun Jan 5, 2014 2:01am EST
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By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Saul Zaentz, the music industry executive who became a film producer for three movies that won Academy Awards for "Best Picture", has died at the age of 92, his nephew Paul Zaentz said on Saturday.

Zaentz died on Friday at his San Francisco area home from complications related to Alzheimer's disease, Paul Zaentz said.

Zaentz is best known for being a producer for acclaimed films including the 1975 movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Amadeus" in 1984 and "The English Patient" in 1996. All three were awarded Oscars for best picture.

"He was an amazing man," said nephew Paul Zaentz, who is also a movie producer. "He always taught me to only make films I am passionate about."

Zaentz was born in Passaic, New Jersey in 1921 and later joined the U.S. Army, where he served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, according to his nephew.

Zaentz settled in San Francisco in the early 1950s and worked as a concert tour manager for American jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan.

In the 1950s, Zaentz helped found Fantasy Records, the jazz label that in the late 1960s helped launch Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) to international fame.

Eventually, the band and Fantasy Records parted ways acrimoniously, and the record label gained control of the rights to the group's song catalog.   Continued...

Saul Zaentz, producer of "The English Patient," holds on to his Oscar for Best Picture, backstage during the 69th annual Academy Awards in this March 24, 1997 file photo. REUTERS/Blake Sell/Files