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Alexander Salkind

Alexander Salkind

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Also Known As: Alexandre Salkind Died: March 8, 1997
Born: June 2, 1921 Cause of Death: leukemia
Birth Place: Germany Profession: producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ginning, with the sequel filmed simultaneously. More negative press for the Salkinds arose after the producers, frustrated with what they viewed as Richard Donnerâ¿¿s failure to stay on schedule and within his budget, fired the beloved director before filming for the sequel had been completed. Having already brought "Musketeers" director Lester on the set in the unofficial capacity of a producer at the height of tension, the Salkinds quickly hired him to complete "Superman II" (1981). More action-packed than the first entry, it wowed audiences and solidified Reeveâ¿¿s legacy as the Last Son of Krypton for an entire generation. Looking to continue and expand their lucrative franchise, Salkind and his heir later produced the campy "Superman III" (1983), featuring comedian Richard Pryor as a nebbish computer whiz, followed by the underwhelming spin-off "Supergirl" (1984), starring Helen Slater as the ersatz cousin of Clark Kent. Unfortunately, neither film was met with enthusiasm by audiences or critics. A non-Superman effort came with "Santa Clause - The Movie" (1985), a kid-friendly examination of the St. Nick mythos starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow. Having sold their Superman rights to Cannon...

ginning, with the sequel filmed simultaneously. More negative press for the Salkinds arose after the producers, frustrated with what they viewed as Richard Donnerâ¿¿s failure to stay on schedule and within his budget, fired the beloved director before filming for the sequel had been completed. Having already brought "Musketeers" director Lester on the set in the unofficial capacity of a producer at the height of tension, the Salkinds quickly hired him to complete "Superman II" (1981). More action-packed than the first entry, it wowed audiences and solidified Reeveâ¿¿s legacy as the Last Son of Krypton for an entire generation. Looking to continue and expand their lucrative franchise, Salkind and his heir later produced the campy "Superman III" (1983), featuring comedian Richard Pryor as a nebbish computer whiz, followed by the underwhelming spin-off "Supergirl" (1984), starring Helen Slater as the ersatz cousin of Clark Kent. Unfortunately, neither film was met with enthusiasm by audiences or critics. A non-Superman effort came with "Santa Clause - The Movie" (1985), a kid-friendly examination of the St. Nick mythos starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow. Having sold their Superman rights to Cannon Films, the Salkinds later pursued the spin-off rights they still retained for a foray into television with "The Adventures of Superboy" (syndicated, 1988-1992). Although relatively successful, "Superboy" ended after a four-season run amidst legal wrangling between the Salkinds and WB parent company Time Warner.

Sadly, Salkindâ¿¿s last effort as a producer, "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992) was a profoundly bitter disappointment for the filmmaker. Besieged by misfortune almost from the start, the costly endeavor suffered one setback after another, including the loss of studio support, having to replace the director and lead actor at the last minute, and on-set troubles with none other than Marlon Brando, who demanded his $5 million paycheck upfront in addition to his own script revisions. Miraculously, the film â¿¿ which, in addition to Brando as infamous Spanish inquisitor Torquemada, co-starred Tom Selleck as Spainâ¿¿s King Ferdinand â¿¿ was completed, only to be received with critical derision and audience indifference at the box office. Adding insult to injury, Salkind was later sued by his own son over claims ranging from breach of contract, fraud and racketeering. Although the suit was later settled out of court, it left deep scars upon Salkindâ¿¿s relationship with his son and effectively ended his professional career. At one point during the litigation, a distraught Salkind lamented to a reporter, "I will probably never see my son or my four grandchildren again. And I know, after this, I will never make movies again." For all intents and purposes, he never did. After a period of illness, Alexander Salkind died of leukemia in a suburb of Paris in March 1997 at the age of 75.

By Bryce P. Colemanxander found himself ready to take on a project of his own.

Armed with the knowledge that came from a lifetime of watching his father work in the business, Salkindâ¿¿s first solo effort as a producer was on the science fiction comedy "Boom in the Moon" (1945). Looking for an American star that his meager budget could afford, Salkind offered the lead to Buster Keaton, the former silent screen icon whose career had fallen on hard times by the 1940s. Although not picked up by distributors in the U.S., the film sold well in virtually every other market and established Salkind as a producer in his own right. As an independent producer, Salkind went on to present such offerings as the musical comedy "The Daughter of the Regiment" (1953). Later returning to France, Salkind and his father co-produced larger scale productions like "The Battle of Austerlitz" (1960), a historical drama covering Napoleonâ¿¿s (Pierre Mondy) famous victory over Russo-Austrian forces. Budgeted at a then astonishing $3-4 million, "Austerlitz" boasted an all-star cast that included Claudia Cardinale, Leslie Caron, Jack Palance and Orson Welles. Another father-and-son production for the Salkinds included an ambitious adaptation of Franz Kafkaâ¿¿s novel "The Trial" (1963), once again featuring Welles (who also wrote and directed) and starring Anthony Perkins as Joseph K, a man inexplicably arrested for an unspecified crime by a shadowy bureaucracy.

By the 1970s, Salkindâ¿¿s son, Ilya, was ready to join the family business that, for a time, would encompass three generations. Young Ilyaâ¿¿s debut as a producer came alongside his father on "The Light at the Edge of the World" (1971), a pirate adventure based on a tale by Jules Verne and starring Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner. While the film performed reasonably well and put the Salkindsâ¿¿ account in the black, the next project Alexanderâ¿¿s son brought to the table nearly did the company in. A modern day potboiler concerning drug smugglers and pornographers, "Kill" (1971) starred Stephen Boyd, Jean Seberg and James Mason. By all accounts, it held the ingredients for a modest hit. Instead, the ineptly-handled thriller proved to be a critical and commercial disaster. Financial relief and professional redemption came for Salkind and his young progeny with Richard Lester's big-budget spectacle "The Three Musketeers" (1973), featuring another all-star cast that included Michael York, Raquel Welch, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway and Charlton Heston. Originally intended as a three-hour epic, Alexander was shocked to discover midway through production that Lester had shot nearly five hours-worth of film. A quick rewrite was called for and the project suddenly became two movies. Not everyone was thrilled by Salkindâ¿¿s ingenuity, however. The producers soon received a complaint from Ms. Welchâ¿¿s attorney over their using her services for a second unauthorized film, rather than the contracted one. The result was a percentage of profits from the second film being given to the artists and what came to be known as the Screen Actors Guildâ¿¿s "Salkind Clause," which stated that an acting contract for a single film could not be extended into two separate productions without the consent of the performer.

In addition to being the Salkindsâ¿¿ biggest hit, "The Three Musketeers" also marked the end of an era for the filmmaking family when founding father Mikhail passed away shortly after the premiere of the hit movie. Following the release of "The Four Musketeers" (1975), Salkind and son busied themselves with projects like the Claude Chabrol bedroom comedy "Twist" (1976) and another star-studded period piece, "Crossed Swords" (1977), as they cast about for their next big success. Although initially baffled by Ilyaâ¿¿s suggestion of adapting a certain comic book superhero â¿¿ who, additionally, he had never heard of â¿¿ into a feature film, Salkind was gradually convinced and the duo set about putting together one of the most ambitious genre pictures ever made. After years of development, script rewrites and a worldwide casting search that become the stuff of legend, the Salkinds at last unveiled the fantasy epic "Superman" (1978) to a giddily receptive public. Starring unknown actor Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, Gene Hackman as supervillain Lex Luthor and, in the biggest casting coup of all, Marlon Brando as Supermanâ¿¿s Kryptonian father, Jor-El, it was just the smash hit the producers had been banking on. In an effort to ensure getting the most bang for his buck, Alexander courted controversy once again when he withheld release of the film until Warner Bros. agreed to pay him an additional $15 million for international distribution costs. Although initially painted as an unethical opportunist for the maneuver, the resulting global revenue generated by the deal reaped financial rewards for Salkind and the studio alike.

As opposed to what had transpired on the "Musketeers" films, "Superman" had been planned as the first of two films from the very be

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CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland)
:
Raised in Berlin
:
Began career as assistant to his father
:
Family fled the Nazis; first settled in Cuba
:
Moved to Mexico City
1943:
First solo producing effort, "Boom in the Moon/El Moderno Barba-Azul", starring Buster Keaton
:
Moved back to Europe in the late 1950s; settling in Paris
1960:
With his father, formed partnership to oversee international features; first production Abel Gance's "Austerlitz", budgeted at betweeen $3 million and $4 million
1962:
Co-produced "The Trial", directed by Orson Welles
1973:
Had first US box-office success with Richard Lester's remake of "The Three Musketeers"; shooting on the film was extended by a month and the extra footage was fashioned into a sequel "The Four Musketeers" (1975); Screen Actors Guild later issued the Salkind Clause, insuring that when an actor signs a contract it is for only one feature
1978:
Credited as 'Presenter' of "Superman", executive produced by son Ilya; Salkind reportedly refused to release the finished print until Warner Bros. paid an additional $15 million fee for international distribution; also 'presented' "Superman II" (1980) and exutive produced "Superman III" (1983)
1988:
Co-created and co-produced the syndicated series "The Adventures of Superboy"
1992:
Last feature film credit, "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery"; sued by son Ilya and other producers for breach of contract and conspiracy to defraud on a loan; lawsuit settled out of court
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Notes

Salkind's year of birth has variously been reported as 1915, 1921 and 1922. He reportedly claimed to be older when he was beginning his career

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Berta Dominguez. Poet, playwright, painter. Married October 18, 1946; Mexican.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Mikhail Salkind. Producer, former lawyer. Russian-Jewish.
mother:
Maria Salkind.
son:
Ilya Salkind. Producer. Born in 1948 in Mexico City, Mexico; educated at the University of London; has worked with father; sued father in 1993 for $10 million, charging breach of contract and conspiracy to defraud on a loan for the film "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992), lawsuit settled out of court; married to Jane Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin.

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