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Jerry Weintraub, Karate Kid producer, dies aged 77

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Jerry Weintraub, the Hollywood producer of the Karate Kid and Ocean’s Eleven films, has died at the age of 77

According to his publicist, he died of heart failure on Monday at his home in Santa Barbara, California.

Weintraub started his career in the music industry, promoting tours for Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, before moving into film production.

Ocean’s Eleven star Clooney and former US President George HW Bush are among those who have paid tribute.

“In the coming days there will be tributes,” said Clooney 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.

Jerry was an American original, who earned his success by the sheer force of his instinct, drive, and larger-than-life personality,” said Bush.

“He had a passion for life. And throughout the ups and downs of his prolific career it was clear just how much he loved show business.”

“So sad at loss of Jerry Weintraub, you were 1 of a kind, my friend,” tweeted Ralph Macchio, who starred in the first three Karate Kid films.

The actor, now 53, described the producer as being the “last of a breed,” adding: “So glad I got to be ‘that kid.”’

Others to tweet tributes include actress Goldie Hawn, who described Weintraub as “a friend [and] a powerhouse of light that graced our lives with spirit and joy.”

“So sad and shocked that a creative spirit like Jerry Weintraub’s could EVER be silenced,” tweeted Rob Lowe, who worked with the producer on Emmy and Golden Globe-winning TV movie Behind the Candelabra.

The producer’s most recent credits include HBO comedy series The Brink and a new version of the Tarzan story, due out next year.

Jerome Charles Weintraub, a native New Yorker, was born in Brooklyn in 1937 and raised in the Bronx. As a teenager he served in the Air Force as a radio operator.

He went on to work in the mailroom at MCA Records and rose through the ranks before leaving to form his own management company.

Moving into films, he quickly enjoyed success as the executive producer of Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville.

Yet not all his films were hits, Weintraub suffering a notable flop in 1998 with the film version of TV show The Avengers.

“The secret to my success is the people that I associate myself with and work with,” Weintraub said in 2010. ”I work with the greatest artists and I respect them.”

He is survived by his four children and his longtime partner, Susan Ekins.

 

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