Jerry Weintraub, the legendary Hollywood mover and shaker whose relentless drive and flair for smooth-talking helped build countless careers, has died at age 77, Huffington Post is reporting.
The list of film and music legends that owe their success — to one degree or another — to Weintraub runs into the dozens, if not hundreds, of names: Elvis Presley, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frank Sinatra, John Denver, and Julia Roberts among them. And his very public bankruptcy and subsequent series of flops, along with his flair for unchecked personal excesses, shook the entertainment industry in the early 1990s.
Born in the Bronx to a jeweler, Jerry Weintraub got his start in the entertainment industry working in the mailroom of a Hollywood talent agency, according to the New York Times. Not one for making money for someone else, though, Weintraub and a friend struck out on their own in the mid 1960s and created their own management agency.
Within a couple of years, Weintraub was promoting concerts for Elvis Presely, who at the time was at the peak of his later career. Soon after, he was working with Frank Sinatra. Led Zeppelin, John Denver, and the Moody Blues soon followed.
In a 2011 memoir, Weintraub described his relentless drive to succeed.
“All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage. I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: ‘Jerry Weintraub Presents.’ “
By the mid 1980s, Weintraub had diversified into film production — perhaps his biggest success was 1984’s The Karate Kid.
By 1990, however, a string of box-office failures — including the execrable My Stepmother Is An Alien — had taken their toll on Weintraub’s management company, and the company declared bankruptcy. At this time his personal excesses — including his tendency to be chauffeured around L.A. in a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars — became the subject of public embarrassment.
By the 2000s, however, Weintraub had come back, and in a huge way, with the franchise that helped solidify the careers of George Clooney and Brad Pitt: The Ocean’s Eleven trilogy, which has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.
Weintraub also had a hand in television, producing the Golden Globe-winning Liberace documentary Behind the Candelabra.
Jerry Weintraub’s publicist states that his client’s official cause of death was cardiac arrest.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown]