Producer Hawk Koch Reveals the Story Behind His Unique Name

Born Howard W. Koch Jr., the former Academy president — and now author of a memoir — reveals how a rabbi helped him differentiate himself with a unique moniker.
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Hawk Koch

What's in a name? Not much, unless you're Hawk Koch. The 73-year-old producer of such films as Wayne's World and Primal Fear — and now the author of Magic Time: My Life in Hollywood, a memoir about his four decades in the business — was born Howard W. Koch Jr., after his father, the much-admired producer of The Manchurian Candidate and Airplane! 

As if living in his dad's shadow wasn't hard enough, there was a third Howard Koch in Hollywood: the one who co-wrote Casablanca. So, 23 years ago, at age 50, this Howard Koch adopted his childhood nickname — Hawk — as his official moniker. "I met this amazing rabbi," Koch tells Rambling Reporter, "and he said, 'Did you know hawks can see a squirrel a half-mile away? Wouldn't it be great if you could see the panoramic of your life and the detail at the same time?' I thought, 'Wow, that would be great.' "

Still, Koch hasn't been able to completely escape his dad's shadow: In 2012, he was elected president of the movie Academy, Howard Sr.'s old job. They're the only father and son ever to run the organization.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.