Legendary Producer Jerry Weintraub Dies at 77

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP

Jerry Weintraub, the legendary film producer whose credits included the hit Ocean’s Eleven and Karate Kid films, reportedly died of heart failure Monday afternoon in Santa Barbara. He was 77.

Weintraub produced dozens of popular movies and television shows over a five-decade career in the entertainment business.

Before becoming a film producer, Weintraub worked in music, managing and promoting the concerts of superstars like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Weintraub got his start in the film industry after meeting legendary director Robert Altman at a John Denver concert he had produced. Altman sent him the script for the 1975 drama Nashville, which would go on to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Over the next four decades, Weintraub produced dozens of films and concert documentaries, including Diner, the controversial 1980 William Friedkin-directed Cruising, The Karate Kid, and all three Ocean’s films.

He penned a memoir in 2010 titled “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man,” the basis of which was used to produce the HBO biographical documentary about Weintraub called His Way.

Weintraub was still working at the time of his death, serving as executive producer on HBO’s new political comedy The Brink and as producer on an upcoming Tarzan film.

Condolences quickly poured in for the late producer.

“In the coming days there will be tributes about our friend Jerry Weintraub,” Ocean’s star George Clooney said in a statement. “We’ll laugh at his great stories, and applaud his accomplishments. And in the years to come the stories and accomplishments will get better with age, just as Jerry would have wanted it. But not today. Today our friend died. To his family and friends, Amal and I send our love. And to those who didn’t know him we send our deepest sympathy. You would have loved him.”

Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven co-star Don Cheadle called Weintraub “equal parts Godfather, rainmaker, caretaker, PT Barnum and friend… I am happier for having known him. He will be sorely missed.”

Former President George H.W. Bush, who was reportedly a close friend of Weintraub and appointed the producer to the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1991, issued his own statement:

Weintraub won three Emmy Awards – for the Showtime documentary series Years of Living Dangerously in 2014, HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra in 2011, and An Evening with John Denver in 1975.

For more on Weintraub’s life and career, read the Hollywood Reporter’s obit here.