French Documentarian Robert Kuperberg Dies at 68

The Cannes award-winner profiled Hollywood notables for two decades and was a producer on "Monsieur Klein," honored with the Cesar for best film in 1977.

Robert Kuperberg, a writer, producer and documentarian who profiled such Hollywood icons as Frank Sinatra, Martin Scorsese and Fred Astaire for French audiences, died Aug. 11 of cancer in Paris, his daughters said. He was 68.

A journalist who helped found the weekly trade magazine Le Journal du Show Business in the late 1960s with French film distributor Rene Chateau, Kuperberg served as a producer on director Joseph Losey’s Monsieur Klein, starring Alain Delon in the title role. A drama about mistaken identity, it competed for the Palme d’Or in Cannes and won the Cesar Award for best film in 1977.

Kuperberg co-wrote 1989’s Comedie d'Amour (Love Comedy), toplined by French stars Michel Serrault, Annie Girardot and Aurore Clement, as well as a hit play for the Theatre National de Chaillot centering on journalist Gitta Sereny’s interviews with Franz Stangl while the Nazi war criminal was in prison.

A passionate fan of American dance musicals, Kuperberg, a Frenchman born in Algeria when his parents fled Paris during World War II, shifted to writing and directing documentaries about American musicals and the likes of Astaire, Cyd Charisse and choreographer Hermes Pan.

In the 2000s, he began working with his daughter Clara Kuperberg on the first of 15 documentaries they did as co-writers/co-directors. With his second daughter, Julia Kuperberg, the trio launched the production company Wichita Films.

Dominick Dunne in Search of Justice captured the Audience Choice Award for best documentary at Cannes in 2007. Their other subjects included organized crime in Hollywood and Las Vegas, director-producer George Sidney, production designer Dean Tavoularis and writer James Ellroy.