Zaentz was a music producer who moved into the movie industry late into his career, winning three Best Picture Oscars
Saul Zaentz passed away at his home in San Francisco on Friday, 3 January, the Associated Press have confirmed. The multi-talented Oscar winner was lucky enough to lead a full life, living to the ripe age of 92, but sadly his passing did come after a serious and tragic battle with Alzheimer's disease, a disorder he had been battling for a number of years.
Amadeus and The English Patient are two of Zaentz most well-received works
Zaentz was born in Passaic, New Jersey, on 28 February, 1921, and went on to study at Rutgers University, where he left with a degree in poultry husbandry, before being shipped to Africa and then Sicily to serve in the Second World War. Whilst on deployment he was also stationed aboard troop ships in the North Atlantic and Pacific. Zaentz death was confirmed to the AP by his nephew, Paul Zaentz, who also served as his longtime business partner.
Initially finding succes in the entertainment industry through his work in the music, Zaentz will be best remembered for his work in Hollywood over everything, as he went on to earn three Oscars despite only ever producing ten full-length pictures. After working as a record producer for over two decades, a run which also saw him purchase the largely jazz-centred record label Fantasy Record in 1967, it was his move into movie production five years later, at the age of 50, that would find him his biggest success.
Starting out with the hardly-seen, low-budget country-music drama Payday in 1972, Zaentz went on to find tremendous success with his later films, holding on to the Old Hollywood ideals of recognising the artistic intentions of his films over anything, even profit. This refreshing take on movie making saw him produce and co-produce a number of well-received, award-winning films, including One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, which earned him his first Best Picture award at the Academy Awards. His second Best Picture Oscar came following the release of 1984's Amadeus, which won eight awards in total. This tally was beaten by his next Oscar-winner; The English Patient, which won nine Oscars in total when it was released in 1996.
A true talent and a genuinely accomplished man, Zaentz' name might not be remembered as well as it should be, but his work and influence on the entertainment industry will live on for years to come. Saul Zaentz; 1921 - 2014.