Jerry Weintraub, the superagent who managed or promoted such stars as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand before producing Hollywood megahits like the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies, “The Karate Kid,” “Diner” and “Behind the Candelabra,” died Monday at age 77, his representatives said.
Michelle Bega, Weintraub’s agent, said he died of cardiac arrest at a Santa Barbara, California, hospital Monday morning. Weintraub’s passing was mourned by political and Hollywood luminaries from former President George H.W. Bush on down.
“In the coming days there will be tributes about our friend Jerry Weintraub,” George Clooney — the star of “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Twelve” and “Thirteen” — said 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.”
Ralph Macchio thanked Weintraub for making him a star in “The Karate Kid. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which administers the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said a flower-laying ceremony would be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the star honoring Weintraub, who was one of entertainment’s most powerful figures long before he became a movie producer.
Weintraub came to prominence promoting and managing not only Presley and Streisand, but also the Carpenters, John Denver and Neil Diamond. He put together Sinatra’s 1974 comeback, “The Main Event,” complete with Howard Cosell as emcee. He started Weintraub Entertainment Group after he was ousted as chairman and chief executive of United Artists in a boardroom shakeup in 1986, and at the time of his death he ran Jerry Weintraub Productions.
As a producer, he helped to launch the careers of several stars, including Macchio, in “The Karate Kid”; Hilary Swank, in a sequel, “The Next Karate Kid”; and Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Steve Guttenberg, all in “Diner.” He is survived by his wife, Jane Morgan Weintraub, whom he married in 1965, as well as his longtime companion, Susan Ekins, four children and a brother.