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Walter Coblenz, who received a best picture Oscar nomination for All the President’s Men and produced other standout films including The Candidate and The Onion Field, has died. He was 93.
Coblenz died March 16 in Los Angeles, his son John announced.
Coblenz also landed an Emmy nomination in 1974 for outstanding limited series for producing NBC’s The Blue Knight, an adaptation of the Joseph Wambaugh novel that starred William Holden as veteran Los Angeles cop Bumper Morgan.
Coblenz served as senior vp production at TriStar Pictures and Carolco Pictures and supervised production on more than 20 major features, including Barry Levinson’s The Natural (1984), Robert Benton’s Places in the Heart (1984), James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991) and Martha Coolidge’s Rambling Rose (1991).
He began his film career as an assistant director and production manager on Michael Ritchie’s Downhill Racer (1969), starring Robert Redford, then collaborated with Ritchie and Redford again on the first film he ever produced, The Candidate (1972).
All the President’s Men (1976), directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Redford and Dustin Hoffman, collected eight Oscar nominations and won four trophies, but the best picture award went to Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler for Rocky.
Born on Aug. 15, 1928, in Glogau, Germany, Coblenz emigrated to the U.S. as a child. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in radio broadcasting, then got a job as a camera operator for a Houston television station.
After three years in the U.S. Air Force, he worked as a TV director in Dayton, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky, then settled in Los Angeles, where he was a stage manager for ABC on The Jerry Lewis Show and, from 1965-69, The Hollywood Palace.
Later, Coblenz was a unit production manager on the ABC series The F.B.I. and on the Monte Hellman-directed Two-Lane Blacktop (1971).
In addition to Harold Becker’s The Onion Field (1979), Coblenz produced films including The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981), Sister, Sister (1987), 18 Again! (1988), The Babe (1992), Money Talks (1997) and Her Majesty (2001) and the 1974-75 CBS series Apple’s Way, created by Earl Hamner Jr.
Known as a no-nonsense producer and fine mentor, Coblenz served for many years on the Special Projects Committee of the DGA, which oversaw educational and cultural programs for members, the industry and academia.
“I’ve tried to do whatever I do with a degree of humor,” he once said. “One of the things that I told people who work as assistants is that I try to treat them reasonably. I say, ‘You know why I’m being nice to you? Because I want you to be nice to me when I’m on my way down.'”
Coblenz said he “always hired people who were smart. If they were smarter than me, great. Then I could sit on my chair on the set and happily look around, knowing I hired all the right people and they were taking care of all the problems. That’s the sign of a good producer.”
Survivors include his sons Martin (and his wife, Eden) and John; daughter Helen (and her husband, Rick); and grandchildren Evan, Danielle, Jordan and Anthony.
Donations can be made to the American Heart Association.
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