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Samuel Goldwyn Jr.
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Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

A risk taker and a survivor is the best way to describe Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Having spent most of his life in the entertainment industry, Goldwyn has produced some of the industry's most ground-breaking and acclaimed films. His work has left an indelible impression on several generations of film audiences.

Goldwyn currently presides over The Samuel Goldwyn Company, whose activities encompass feature film development, production and distribution. A long-time member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he also is an officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters. In 1997 at ShowEast, he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of American Exhibitors. Most recently, he was honored by the University of Connecticut with a Doctorate of the Arts.

Taking chances on films that no other studio would is an important element in Goldwyn's life. Some of these gems include bringing films based on Shakespearean scripts back into favor with Kenneth Branagh's Henry V and, later, Much Ado About Nothing. Never one to back away from controversy, he presented the AIDS drama Longtime Companion at a time when the American population and the media were avoiding the subject at all costs. Desert Hearts, another Goldwyn film, dealt with the then taboo topic of a lesbian relationship.

Three Goldwyn films have captured the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes David Lynch's Wild at Heart, Bille August's The Best Intentions, and Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape. Foreign films are another passion, having released The Best Intentions, 3 Men and a Cradle, Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita, the recent Faithless, and Ang Lee's Oscar-nominated classics Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman.

He has also been a champion of fine documentary works, highlighted by the Oscar-winning Hotel Terminus, the multi-Award-winning 35 Up, Sting's Bring on the Night and the critically-acclaimed Mystery of Picasso. He has consistently found a talent pool in Great Britain, producing and presenting such films as Gregory's Girl from director Bill Forsyth, Anthony Minghella's Truly, Madly, Deeply, and the multi-Oscar nominated The Madness of King George, featuring first time director Nicholas Hytner and overnight sensation Nigel Hawthorne.

As a producer, he has garnered a reputation as a discoverer of talent having provided the forum to launch the careers of numerous stars, producers, directors and writers. Goldwyn's Mystic Pizza introduced Julia Roberts as a leading lady, Once Bitten showcased the talents of then unknown comedian Jim Carrey; Hollywood Shuffle served as the springboard for the talented Robert Townsend, and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and his first film, Stranger Than Paradise.

Among the other films that Goldwyn has produced and/or distributed include Better Than Sex, Solas, Greenfingers, and King of Masks. Other notable company productions and releases include Lolita starring Jeremy Irons, The Preacher's Wife with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, Big Night, I Shot Andy Warhol, Angels and Insects, To Live, A Prayer for the Dying, Sid and Nancy, Turtle Diary, Prick Up Your Ears, Black Robe, Mississippi Masala, The Playboys, and Dance with a Stranger. He also was responsible for the television phenomenon, American Gladiators, which ran for seven seasons in the U.S. and around the world.

In 1987 Goldwyn took on the monumental task of producing the 59th Annual Academy Awards. The Academy invited him back the following year and Goldwyn was rewarded with an Emmy Award for Best Variety-Music Programming for his efforts on that show.

In the early 1970's he produced two successful comedies which helped set the tone for an emerging genre, the black film cycle, with Cotton Comes to Harlem starring Godfrey Cambridge and Come Back Charleston Blue. Two 1990s releases also helped pave the way for future works by black filmmakers-- To Sleep with Anger and Straight Out of Brooklyn.

The son of legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn and actress Frances Howard, Goldwyn was born and raised in Los Angeles. He later attended the University of Virginia where he majored in English and Drama.

After a stint in the Army during World War II, he went to work in England for J. Arthur Rank Productions as a writer and associate producer and also spent some time in various capacities in the London theatre. Returning to Hollywood, he worked for a short time as a writer and producer at Universal Studios before once again joining the military in 1950. This time, he joined the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, where he produced and directed documentary films. His Alliance for Peace won first prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival, serving as an auger of things to follow.

Returning to the U.S. in 1952, he picked up where he left off, working for a time under Edward R. Murrow at CBS News. He went on to co-produce the documentary series, Adventure, which won a George Foster Peabody Award. In 1955, Goldwyn formed his own independent production company. Among the company's productions were Man with a Gun with Robert Mitchum, Sharkfighters, The Proud Rebel with Alan Ladd and Olivia de Havilland, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Young Lovers, which he also directed.

The new Goldwyn Company was founded in 1979 stemming from Mr. Goldwyn's vision for a motion picture company with the scope of a major studio and the heart of an old-fashioned family business. Using more than 50 classic American films owned by the original company as building blocks, classics such as Wuthering Heights, Pride of the Yankees, Best Years of Our Lives, Guys and Dolls, Hans Christian Anderson, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the company continues to build a library of fine films.

In addition to his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Goldwyn serves as President of The Samuel Goldwyn Foundation, a non-profit organization with a primary interest in health, education and child services. The Foundation sponsors a yearly writing competition for the University of California system, which has a proven track record of launching the careers of talented young screenwriters. The Foundation also constructed the Hollywood Public Library in memory of Frances Howard Goldwyn and created the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Children's Center, a day care center serving the entertainment industry.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Facts

BirthdaySeptember 7, 1926 (95)
BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.