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Irwin Winkler

Irwin Winkler has a distinguished reputation in the motion picture industry as one of the most progressive and honored filmmakers. His films have received 12 Academy Awards from 45 nominations, including four Best Picture nominations -- a record that stands alone in contemporary Hollywood. Winkler received the Academy Award for Best Picture for his 1976 film Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone. His other Best Picture nominations were for Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, and Goodfellas, while They Shoot Horses, Don't They? amassed nine Oscar nominations. Winkler is the only producer to have three of his films listed on the American Film Institute's list of top 100 films of all time.

Winkler directed and co-produced Home of the Brave, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Brian Presley and Curtis Jackson; the romantic drama "At First Sight (1999), starring Val Kilmer, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, Nathan Lane, Steven Weber, and Kelly McGillis; The Net (1995) starring Sandra Bullock, which grossed in excess of $130 million worldwide. Winkler entered into a deal with USA Network to do a TV series based on this film which debuted in 1998.

Irwin Winkler made his directorial debut in 1989 with Guilty By Suspicion, starring Robert De Niro, Annette Bening, Patricia Wettig, and Martin Scorsese, focused on a blacklisted Hollywood director in the McCarthy-era Hollywood, and went on to direct Night and the City, starring De Niro and Jessica Lange (who was Oscar nominated for her role in Winkler's 1989 film, Music Box).

Winkler started his producing career in 1967 with the legendary director Norman Taurog (Skippy, Boys Town) at MGM with the film Double Trouble, starring Elvis Presley. Winkler and Robert Chartoff followed up their debut with the Lee Marvin thriller Point Blank -- a film which is now considered a cult classic and the one that introduced filmmaker John Boorman to the American film community. They then went on to produce the multi-nominated "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?: (for which Gig Young earned the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor), Leo the Last, and The Strawberry Statement. Each of these films was honored at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.

Winkler first met Martin Scorsese at the New York Film Festival showing of Mean Streets and their long relationship (five movies together) began with New York, New York, an evocation of the musicals of the 1950s, starring Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli. Their next collaborative effort was Raging Bull, considered by many to be the classic American film of the 1980s and the one for which De Niro garnered the Oscar for Best Actor. GoodFellas, their third project together with Scorsese as director, was named 1990's Best Film by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the British Academy, as well as receiving numerous other honors.

Scorsese also acted in Winkler's homage to the jazz era, 'Round Midnight, for which Herbie Hancock won an Oscar for Best Score, and in Guilty By Suspicion, in which Scorsese gave a notable performance as a blacklisted director fashioned after Joseph Losey.

Other films produced by Irwin Winkler include The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight; Up the Sandbox, starring Barbra Streisand; The Gambler, starring James Caan; Comes a Horseman, starring James Caan and Jane Fonda; and True Confessions, starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall.

To make Rocky, he and Chartoff mortgaged their own homes to provide the funding when no studio would. The against-all-odds triumph of the film more than made up for the risk. Not only did Rocky earn the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976, but the combined grosses for the series amounted to over $1 billion.

Mr. Winkler has been the proud recipient of numerous American and international honors for his outstanding achievements. The French government personally honored him with their highest decoration for contribution to the arts -- the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres. In 1989, the British Film Institute saluted him with a retrospective of his work and the Chicago Film Festival bestowed upon him their Lifetime Achievement Award. Most recently, his alma mater, New York University, presented him with the school's Madden Memorial Award. In 1990, The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted a retrospective of Winkler's films followed by the world premiere showing of Guilty By Suspicion. Winkler currently serves on the Board of Governors of the American Film Institute.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2007.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Irwin Winkler Facts

OccupationDirector, Producer
BirthdayMay 25, 1931 (92)
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.