Greatest Producers

by cinemabon | created - 13 Jun 2014 | updated - 13 Jun 2014 | Public

1. Hal B. Wallis

Producer | True Grit

Legendary producer Hal B. Wallis was born in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles when he was in his early 20s. He got a job managing a theater owned by Warner Bros., and his success at the job caught the eye of studio head Jack L. Warner, who gave him a job in the studio's publicity department. Within...

No producer had a longer or more distinguished career than Hal Wallis did. Robbed of his true credit by studio head Jack Warner, Wallis continued to shine years after leaving the studio system.

2. Irving Thalberg

Producer | The Tower of Lies

Irving Grant Thalberg was born in New York City, to Henrietta (Haymann) and William Thalberg, who were of German Jewish descent. He had a bad heart, having contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager and was plagued with other ailments all of his life. He was quite intelligent with a thirst for ...

The "boy genius" who practically wrote the book on what a Hollywood producer should be, Thalberg started MGM out on the right foot and tragically died before his time.

3. Ernst Lubitsch

Director | To Be or Not to Be

From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at ...

Witty, funny, hard worker, dedicated to the film business - many filmmakers including Billy Wilder admired and loved Lubitsch for his many contributions to the art of filmmaking.

4. Samuel Goldwyn

Producer | The Best Years of Our Lives

Famed for his relentless ambition, bad temper and genius for publicity, Samuel Goldwyn became Hollywood's leading "independent" producer -- largely because none of his partners could tolerate him for long. Born Shmuel (or Schmuel) Gelbfisz, probably in 1879, in the Jewish section of Warsaw, he was ...

A taskmaster and disciplinarian Goldwyn still had an eye for talent and supported many filmmakers including William Wyler into many successes. Goldwyn's string of hits is almost impossible to duplicate due in part to the craftsmen who surrounded him.

5. David O. Selznick

Producer | Gone with the Wind

David O. Selznick was a son of the silent movie producer Lewis J. Selznick. David studied at Columbia University until his father lost his fortune in the 1920s. David started work as an MGM script reader, shortly followed by becoming an assistant to Harry Rapf. He left MGM to work at Paramount then...

Overcoming insurmountable odds, Selznick brought "Gone With the Wind" to the screen with such panache that years later it's lost none of its original charm.

6. Pandro S. Berman

Producer | Father of the Bride

Pandro S. Berman was born into the film industry. His father, Harry, was distributor and exhibitor of films. Pandro also had a number of relatives in the film industry. When he started working in the 1920's he started as a script clerk and then rose to film editor. By 1931, the 26 year old Berman ...

One of Hollywood's great producers gave us Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. He must have been doing something right.

7. Nunnally Johnson

Writer | The Grapes of Wrath

The son of a railway superintendent, Nunnally Johnson was schooled in Columbus, Georgia, graduating in 1915. He worked for the local newspaper as a delivery boy, became a junior reporter for the Savannah Press and then moved on to New York in 1919. There, his journalistic career really took off, ...

Originally hired at Fox to write, Johnson produced many films where studio head (like so many studio heads) Zanuck took credit instead.

8. Arthur Hornblow Jr.

Producer | Witness for the Prosecution

College-educated Arthur Hornblow Jr. was the son of a successful novelist, turned playwright. After graduating from New York Law School, he worked for some time as a practising lawyer and was posted in counter-intelligence during the First World War. After the war, his literary inclinations took ...

Nominated four times for an Oscar, Hornblow never took home the Oscar. His outstanding films include "Gaslight" "Oklahoma" and "Witness for the Prosecution."

9. Sam Zimbalist

Producer | Ben-Hur

Sam Zimbalist was born on March 31, 1904 in New York City, New York, USA. He was a producer and editor, known for Ben-Hur (1959), King Solomon's Mines (1950) and Quo Vadis (1951). He was married to Mary Taylor and Margaret C. Donovan. He died on November 4, 1958 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Zimbalist worked in Hollywood for years and produced a string of hits only to die during his greatest triumph for which he is the only recipient of a posthumous Oscar for Best Picture - Ben Hur.

10. Sam Spiegel

Producer | Lawrence of Arabia

Sam Spiegel was born on November 11, 1901 in Jaroslau, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel. He is known for his work on Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and On the Waterfront (1954). He was married to Betty Benson, Lynn Baggett and Rachel "Ray" Agranovich. He...

Sam Spiegel spent his entire life devoted to films and cinema. Like Sam Goldwyn, Spiegel had a great eye for talent and working with David Lean, garnered two Oscars for two Best Pictures. Spiegel continued great success in Hollywood and still remembered as one of its greatest producers.

11. Ray Stark

Producer | Annie

Ray Stark was born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, New York, USA as Raymond Otto Stark. He was a producer, known for Annie (1982), Steel Magnolias (1989) and Murder by Death (1976). He was married to Frances Brice (Arnstein). He died on January 17, 2004 in West Hollywood, California, USA.

Ray Stark backed several successful productions in the 1960's through the 1980's including "Funny Girl" and "The Goodbye Girl", nominated for both. Considered ruthless by some, Stark still managed to make money for Columbia - the job of any producer.

12. Ross Hunter

Producer | Airport

Noted Hollywood producer Ross Hunter served in Army intelligence during World War II. After the war he signed with Columbia Pictures and appeared in a number of forgettable B-movies. He then became a producer and produced more than 60 films. Most of his films tended to be bright confections, many ...

A closeted gay, Hunter still managed to keep his private life separate from his successful film career as a consummate producer with a string of hits starting in the 1950's until the early 1970's.

13. Michael Phillips

Producer | The Sting

Michael Phillips has been producing films and television in Hollywood since 1971. His films have garnered 23 Academy Award nominations, winning him a best picture Oscar for The Sting, a Palme d'Or Prize for Taxi Driver, and Italy's David di Donatello award for best picture for Clsoe Encounters of ...

Michael, along with his then wife Julia, earned the first husband/wife team (and Tony Bill) for their work on "The Sting." They continued to produce a whole series of hit films throughout the 1970's and 1980's.

14. Gary Kurtz

Producer | Star Wars

Gary Kurtz was born on July 27, 1940 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Gary Douglas Kurtz. He was a producer and assistant director, known for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), The Dark Crystal (1982) and American Graffiti (1973). He was married to Stephanie Clare Gabriel, Roberta Jimenez...

The man who produced "Star Wars" (and backed George Lucas) also gave us "The Dark Crystal" and other great films.

15. Irwin Winkler

Producer | Life as a House

Irwin Winkler's career as a producer, director and writer encompasses popular and influential movies that have impacted contemporary culture. With a passion for big, bold, meaningful stories, his films include an array of true screen classics, garnering among them 12 Academy Awards and 52 Oscar ...

Winkler produced a plethora of films from the 1970's on. Nominated four times, he won his Oscar for "Rocky"

16. Frank Marshall

Producer | Congo

Frank was born in Glendale, California to musician Jack Marshall. He entered the film world when his parents invited him to a birthday party for the daughter of directing legend John Ford in 1966. There, he met Peter Bogdanovich and soon agreed to work on his first film, Targets (1968), later ...

One can hardly mention Marshall without mentioning his wife and collaborator Kathleen Kennedy. The successful partnership has produced a great line of films, five Oscar nominations and a very closer partnership with director Steven Spielberg.

17. Kathleen Kennedy

Producer | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Kathleen Kennedy worked in San Diego local television before moving to Los Angeles, where she was hired by Steven Spielberg as a secretary on the production of 1941 (1979). Both later reported that she was lacking as a typist but had good production ideas. She was an associate to Mr. Spielberg on ...

Nominated eight times for an Oscar but never a bride, no one can argue with Kennedy's incredible talent as a producer, especially in her collaboration with Steven Spielberg. She is one of Hollywood's most successful producers of all time.

18. Stanley R. Jaffe

Producer | Kramer vs. Kramer

Stanley R. Jaffe was born on July 31, 1940 in New Rochelle, New York, USA as Stanley Richard Jaffe. He is a producer and director, known for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Fatal Attraction (1987) and Black Rain (1989). He has been married to Melinda Jill Marciano since September 27, 1986. They have two ...

Starting with "The Goodbye Girl," Jaffe won his Oscar for "Kramer VS Kramer" and other hits that included "Fatal Attraction."

19. Richard D. Zanuck

Producer | Driving Miss Daisy

Richard D. Zanuck was born on December 13, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Richard Darryl Zanuck. He was a producer, known for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Deep Impact (1998) and Cocoon (1985). He was married to Lili Fini Zanuck, Linda Harrison and Lili Gentle. He died on July 13, 2012 in ...

Unlike his father, Richard Zanuck worked his way through the film industry by befriending and supporting his directors. Considered by many as one of the greatest producers of all time, Zanuck won his Oscar for "Driving Miss Daisy" after already delivering a string of hits that included such blockbusters as "Jaws."

20. David Brown

Producer | Deep Impact

David Brown was born on July 28, 1916 in New York City, New York, USA. He was a producer, known for Deep Impact (1998), The Player (1992) and Cocoon (1985). He was married to Helen Gurley Brown. He died on February 1, 2010 in Manhattan, New York City.

Along with Richard Zanuck, partner Brown supported the team that led to a string of hits but only the Thalberg for the hard worker.

21. Brian Grazer

Producer | A Beautiful Mind

Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer has been making movies and television programs for more than 25 years. As both a writer and producer, he has been personally nominated for four Academy Awards, and in 2002 won the Best Picture Oscar for A Beautiful Mind (2001). In addition to winning ...

Working with wunderkind Ron Howard, Grazer produced many of Howard's films and won his Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind."

22. Albert R. Broccoli

Producer | Dr. No

Albert Romolo Broccoli was born in Astoria, Queens (New York City) on April 5th, 1909. His mother and father, Cristina and Giovanni Broccoli, raised young Albert in New York on the family farm. The family was in the vegetable business, and Albert claimed one of his uncles brought the first broccoli...

Cubby had a long distinguished career not only as great producer of films but as the man who brought James Bond to the silver screen. His children carry on that tradition to this day. In 1982, the Academy awarded Broccoli the Thalberg, the highest honor any producer can achieve.

23. Harvey Weinstein

Producer | Shakespeare in Love

Harvey Weinstein was born on March 19, 1952 in Flushing, Queens, New York City, New York, USA. He is a film producer, known for Pulp Fiction (1994), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Gangs of New York (2002). He is now separated from his wife Georgina Chapman and was previously married to Eve Chilton ...

Perhaps the greatest living producer in Hollywood, Weinstein created Miramax Corp and has made more money than any producer in the history of film. Harvey took home his Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love."

24. Barrie M. Osborne

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Barrie M. Osborne was born on February 7, 1944 in New York City, New York, USA as Barrie Mitchell Osborne. He is a producer and production manager, known for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Lord of the Rings: The...

While Osborne produced many films, he will best be known for his work on the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy for which he received an Academy Award for Best Picture.

25. Bruce Cohen

Producer | American Beauty

Bruce Cohen was born in Falls Church, Virginia, USA. He is a producer and assistant director, known for American Beauty (1999), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Milk (2008).

While still a young man at this writing, Bruce has distinguished himself as one of the top producers in Hollywood, winning an Oscar for "American Beauty" and nominated for such greats as "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Milk."

26. Stanley Kramer

Producer | Judgment at Nuremberg

Stanley Kramer was born on September 29, 1913 in Hell's Kitchen [now Clinton], Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA as Stanley Earl Abramson. He is known for his work on Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and Inherit the Wind (1960). He was married to Karen Sharpe, ...

Honorable mention - Known more for his skills as a director, Kramer also produced many of his own films and was nominated several times but only took home the Thalberg - still a great prize.

27. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Schindler's List

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

Honorable Mention - Known more as a director, Spielberg also produced dozens of films through his long and distinguished career.

28. Walter Mirisch

Producer | In the Heat of the Night

Walter Mirisch and brothers Marvin Mirisch and Harold Mirisch were one of the most successful producing teams in Hollywood history. Their Mirisch Company produced such diverse hits as Some Like It Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), West Side Story (1961), The Great Escape (1963), The Pink ...

While Mirisch took home his Oscar for "Heat of the Night," he will probably be best remembered as the man who delivered "The Magnificent Seven" along with many other great films.

29. Frank McCarthy

Producer | Patton

Frank McCarthy was born on June 8, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia, USA. He is known for his work on Patton (1970), Decision Before Dawn (1951) and Sailor of the King (1953). He died on December 1, 1986 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.

While having a short career as a producer, McCarthy did deliver one of the best with "Patton" and won the Oscar.

30. John Boorman

Producer | Excalibur

John Boorman attended Catholic school (Salesian Order) although his family was not, in fact, Roman Catholic. His first job was for a dry-cleaner. Later, he worked as a critic for a women's journal and for a radio station until he entered the television business, working for the BBC in Bristol. ...

Both director and producer, Boorman managed to squeeze out a nomination for "Excalibur" and produced a string of hit films for many years after that.

31. Irwin Allen

Producer | The Towering Inferno

A graduate of New York's Columbia School of Journalism, Irwin Allen was a magazine editor, the producer/director of a radio show and the owner of an advertising agency before entering film production in the 1950s. His documentary, The Sea Around Us (1953), won an Academy Award. A successful TV ...

King of the disaster movies, Allen also gave us a string of television hits that included, "Lost in Space." While he never garnered any nominations, he could still produce such huge all star casts as "Poseidon Adventure" and "Towering Inferno."

32. Alan Marshall

Producer | Starship Troopers

Alan Marshall was born in England in 1938. At the age of 24 he entered the British film industry and graduated to the big league in 1975 when he founded a production company with director Alan Parker who he met when both worked at a London advertising agency.

Marshall's first producer credit ...

In addition to "Midnight Express," Marshall gave us "Basic Instinct" one of the biggest thriller success stories of all time.

33. David Puttnam

Producer | Chariots of Fire

David Puttnam was born on February 25, 1941 in London, England as David Terence Puttnam. He is a producer, known for Chariots of Fire (1981), The Mission (1986) and The Killing Fields (1984). He has been married to Patricia Mary Jones since 1961. They have two children.

Puttnam produced many hit films but won his Oscar for "Chariots of Fire."

34. Jim Sheridan

Producer | In America

Jim Sheridan is a master story-teller, and an acclaimed film director of few films, but good films nevertheless.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1949, Sheridan moved to America in 1982, meeting a man who invited him to run the Irish Arts Center. He found a place to live in Hell's Kitchen, New York City,...

Honorable Mention - Nominated six times for an Oscar, Sheridan often produced his own directed films as well as many others.

35. Mike Nichols

Director | The Graduate

He, along with the other members of the "Compass Players" including Elaine May, Paul Sills, Byrne Piven, Joyce Hiller Piven and Edward Asner helped start the famed "Second City Improv" company. They used the games taught to them by fellow cast mate, Paul Sills 's mother, Viola Spolin. He later ...

Honorable Mention - In addition to the numerous award and accolades this great director has garnered, he also produced many film projects.

36. Francis Ford Coppola

Producer | Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated ...

Honorable Mention - In addition to directing the greatest film of all time - The Godfather - Coppola also produced his movies and many others.

37. Lawrence Bender

Producer | Pulp Fiction

Lawrence Bender is a movie producer working in the entertainment industry for 20 years. He helped produce Hollywood films like Reservoir Dogs (1992), Good Will Hunting (1997), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django (2012). Lawrence won 6 Academy Awards with 29 nominations including 3 Best Picture ...

Bender makes the art of producing look easy as he has made more successful films than practically any living producer except Weinstein.

38. Taylor Hackford

Producer | Ray

Taylor Hackford was born on December 31, 1944 in Santa Barbara, California, USA as Taylor Edwin Hackford. He is a producer and director, known for Ray (2004), Blood In, Blood Out (1993) and Dolores Claiborne (1995). He has been married to Helen Mirren since December 31, 1997. He was previously ...

Honorable Mention - In addition to his chores as director, Hackford also produced many of his own works and became President of the Director's Guild in the process. Nominated twice for an Oscar.

39. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would ...

Honorable Mention - arguably the greatest film director of all time, Kubrick also produced as well as wrote - the triple threat.

40. Robert Lorenz

Assistant_director | Mystic River

Lorenz was born in Chicago and has lived in Los Angeles since 1989. As a producer he has been nominated three times for Best Picture: Mystic River in 2003, Letters From Iwo Jima in 2006 and American Sniper in 2014. In 2012 he made his directorial debut with Trouble with the Curve. He has been a ...

While working in close collaboration with director Clint Eastwood, Lorenz has risen through the ranks as one of the best producers in today's Hollywood scene.

41. Joel Coen

Producer | The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), Fargo (1996) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

Joel along with his brother Ethan have co-produced some of Hollywood's biggest hits and most innovative movies including "Fargo."

42. Jerry Bruckheimer

Producer | Armageddon

Jerry Bruckheimer was born on September 21, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan, USA as Jerome Leon Bruckheimer. He is a producer, known for Armageddon (1998), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006). He has been married to Linda Balahoutis since ...

While never receiving an Oscar nomination, no one can argue with Bruckheimer's success as a producer. His films have garnered more box office than those of practically any current producer.

43. Scott Rudin

Producer | No Country for Old Men

Scott Rudin was born on July 14, 1958 in New York City, New York, USA. He is a producer, known for No Country for Old Men (2007), The Social Network (2010) and The Truman Show (1998).

Perhaps one of the most prolific and versatile producers in the world, Rudin is one of the rarest of rare individuals who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Considered of the all time great producers, Rudin is also one of its busiest.

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