Oscar-winning producer Robert Chartoff, best known for producing movies like “Rocky,” “Raging Bull” and “The Right Stuff,” died Wednesday at his Santa Monica home in California, reports said. The 81-year-old was battling pancreatic cancer.
"My father was amazing. He was an amazing father and person; there are no words. The important thing is that he died surrounded by his family," Chartoff’s daughter Julie said, according to CNN.
Chartoff had joined hands with Irwin Winkler in late 1960s to start Chartoff-Winkler Productions, which made over 25 features that helped the two win 12 Academy Awards and 40 nominations. The pair is most remembered for their work together on the Sylvester Stallone-starrer "Rocky," Robert De Niro-starrer “Raging Bull” and “The Right Stuff,” starring Ed Harris, all of which won at the Oscars. Chartoff's last movie was a 2013 science fiction flick, “Ender’s Game,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Chartoff and Winkler had heard the story for “Rocky” at a meeting with Stallone, who pitched them the plot about a Philadelphia-based club fighter Rocky Balboa. Stallone had refused to sell the script unless he was cast to play the lead role, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which added that the budget of the film was $960,000.
“What I liked most was the ending,” Chartoff had reportedly said in Steven Prigge’s 2004 book, “Movie Moguls Speak: Interviews With Top Film Producers," adding: “In the end, Rocky Balboa lost the fight to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). However, something more important happened. He won by achieving his personal goal. That was very rare in American cinema.”
The producers had received support from Mike Medavoy at United Artists (UA) and shooting was completed in 28 days. But the two had to spend $25,000 from their pockets for a new ending when the UA refused. "Rocky" won 10 Oscar nominations, including two for Stallone for best actor and screenplay. The movie grossed over $200 million and won the award for best picture, best director for John Avildsen and best editing. The next four “Rocky” films were produced by Chartoff and Winkler through the 1990s.
“On the last day of filming, I bought a leather-bound pad and a pen for Sylvester,” Chartoff said in the book, according to the Hollywood Reporter, adding: “I walked up to him and said, ‘Now go write the sequel.’ So, I believed we had something unique and it was a great movie, the personification of the American dream.”
Chartoff is survived by five children -- William, Charley, Jennifer, Miranda and Julie -- from his marriages to British actress Vanessa Howard, whom he divorced in 1983, and his current wife, Jenny Weyman, whom he married in 1992, according to IMDb.