Film producer Saul Zaentz has died of complications from Alzheimer’s at his San Francisco home. He was 92.
The winner of best picture Oscars for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus and The English Patient, Saul Zaentz only entered the movie business in his 50s, having already made a fortune in the music industry.
Most of Saul Zaentz’s films were based on literary properties, and he held the rights to JRR Tolkien’s novels.
“He was an amazing man,” said his nephew Paul Zaentz, who is also a film producer.
“He always taught me to only make films I am passionate about.”
Saul Zaentz was born in Passaic, New Jersey in 1921 and later joined the US Army, where he served in Europe and the Pacific during WWII.
After military service, he briefly tried his hand as a chicken farmer, before moving to San Francisco to study business.
Saul Zaentz was hired as a salesman by jazz label Fantasy Records in 1955 and, 12 years later, acquired the company from its founders.
In a departure from its usual roster – which included Dave Brubeck and the poet Allen Ginsberg – Saul Zaentz signed rock group Credence Clearwater Revival, who went on to make the label millions.