Childhood & Early Life
Jerry Weintraub was born Jerome Charles Weintraub, on September 26, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York, to Samuel and Rose Weintraub. He was born as one among two kids in the family and had a brother named Melvyn while growing up.
Jerry grew up in a well off family with a father who worked as a jeweller and a housewife mother. He grew up watching films, owing to his mother’s obsession with the art of cinema. She took him along to cinemas and hence, Jerry developed a penchant for the art of storytelling. She also read stories to him, which further strengthened his beliefs that he could be a storyteller someday.
He eventually began developing an interest in acting. He would enact scenes from the films that he liked for weeks. Naturally, the school became hugely uninteresting for him. He read a lot and loved retelling the stories to his family and friends.
He eventually moved to the Bronx, New York, with his family and finished his high school graduation. He was unaware of the way he had to take in order to find his way into show business and began working as an usher in a local theatre. He also worked as a waiter in local restaurants.
He was also enlisted into the air force briefly before he became fully associated with the Hollywood. He retired from the force and took a job at MCA, a famous record label. He worked as a clerk there for sometime before he went out and started his own talent management company.
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While he worked at the MCA, he worked under the assistance of Lew Wasserman and learned many tricks of the profession. He thought of him as a father figure and launched his own talent company in the 1960s. In the early phases of his career, he worked with artists such as Paul Anka, Pat Boone, Jackson Brownie and Jimmy Buffet etc.
By the late 1960s, his influence as a talent manager had grown. He was always on the lookout for the promising artists and waited for his big breakthrough. The moment arrived in 1970 when he located John Denver at a small club in Greenwich Village. He saw raw talent in John and signed him in 1970.
John Denver became a musical sensation in the next few years. John also produced many music specials with John that became hugely successful, also winning Jerry an Emmy Award. Later, when John became successful, he gifted Jerry an expensive car as a sign of his gratitude. However, one of the most dreamy manager-artist pair of the 1970s parted ways abruptly.
By then, he had also begun looking for an alternate career as a concert manager. In 1970, he came in touch with Elvis Presley and his manager and asked them to embark on a nationwide tour. By then, Elvis was just a film star and he had not thought about a tour. But he went ahead with it and following the tour’s success, Jerry’s reputation as a concert promoter further increased.
In the early 1970s, Frank Sinatra was going through a bad phase following the failure of his last album. He had not toured in many years but upon Jerry’s insistence, he agreed. The first show was in the Madison Square Garden and it was a huge success. Frank did not consider himself to be a ‘stadium singer’ until then and this rejuvenated his career. Many industry professionals credit Jerry for this achievement.
Jerry’s reputation reached Bob Dylan, one of the greatest American musical stars of all times. He hired Jerry to manage his worldwide tour, which turned out to be a huge success. Hence, Jerry became known as one of the most successful concert promoters of his times.
Apart from these well known artists, Jerry also worked with artists such as The Carpenters, The Moody Blues and The Beach Boys.
In the mid-1970s, when his career as a talent manager was thriving, Jerry also turned to film production. He got a hold of a script titled ‘Nashville’ which he wanted to be his debut film. He hired Robert Altman as the director but no Hollywood studio wanted to work with Robert owing to his eccentric behaviour. But Jerry convinced investors to fund the film titled ‘Nashville’ and the film turned out to be a huge commercial success, kick-starting Jerry’s film production career.
Over the next few years, Jerry served as the producer on several successful films such as ‘Oh, God!’, ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Diner’.
In 1984, he produced the film titled ‘The Karate Kid’, which was an immediate critical and commercial success and overtime became a cult classic. Following the success of the film, the owner of the production company MGM/UA hired Jerry as the chairman and CEO of the United Artists division. Jerry further produced all the sequels in the franchise.
In the next two decades, he produced several films, such as ‘Happy New Year’, ‘The Specialist’, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’(remake) franchise among others. He also served as a producer on television shows, such as ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ and ‘The Brink’. He won an Emmy for ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ and the drama film ‘Behind the Candelabra’ (2013).
Family, Personal Life & Death
Jerry Weintraub first married Janice Greenberg and had one child with her. After divorcing his first wife, he married singer and actress Jane Morgan. The couple got married in 1965. She was almost 41 years old at that time while Jerry was 28. Hence, following some trouble in having children due to her age, they adopted three daughters.
The couple separated in 1980, without divorcing. Jerry later began living with his partner Susan Ekins. The couple lived together until his death.
Jerry died of heart failure on July 6, 2015. He was 77 years old at the time of his demise.