Stephen Johnston, Former Goldcrest Films President, Dies at 68

Stephen Johnston - P
New Republic Media

He ran the Los Angeles office of the onetime British movie giant before retiring in 2013.

Stephen Johnston, former president of Goldcrest Films, whose best picture Oscar winners included Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, Dances With Wolves and Driving Miss Daisy when run by co-founder Jake Eberts during the 1980s, has died. He was 68.

Johnston, who served as president and managing director of the Los Angeles office of Goldcrest before retiring in 2013, died May 4 in Los Angeles after a short illness, according to his publicist.

"I’ll miss him terribly and fondly recall our 30 years of joy and laughter," Goldcrest Group chairman John Quested said Sunday in a statement.

Johnston was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Oct. 5, 1948. After high school, he worked in various hometown jobs before deciding to distribute movies in 1972, initially with Pacific International Enterprises. He then worked stateside for U.S. companies like Jensen Farley, TAFT International and Sun-Classic Pictures.

Johnston served as a senior vp at the sales outfit Simcom in Los Angeles from 1985-89 before joining Goldcrest Films International under Quested. This was after Eberts — a fellow Canadian who founded the company in the late 1970s in the U.K. with producer David Puttnam and won back-to-back best picture Oscars for Chariots of Fire and Gandhi in 1982 and 1983 — had left Goldcrest in 1987 after it fell on hard times and needed rescuing.

At Goldcrest, Johnston helped produce, develop, acquire and distribute films globally. One of his first tasks was to oversee the U.S distribution by MGM/UA of the 1989 Don Bluth animated hit All Dogs Go to Heaven.

He had a home in L.A. and for a time maintained a second home in London.

Johnston is survived by his wife, Patricia, whom he married in June 1990.