On Friday, the producer Saul Zaentz, best known for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The English Patient, died at 92. Among the Tolkien community, he is known for acquiring the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Saul Zaentz was born in 1921 in New Jersey and began his career as a record company executive before producing a variety of movies. Three of the movies produced by Zaentz won an Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1978, after acquiring the rights to Tolkien’s LOTR and The Hobbit two years earlier, Zaentz produced the animated version of LOTR directed by Ralph Bakshi. Now, Zaentz’s Middle-earth Enterprises owns the worldwide film, stage and merchandise rights to LOTR and The Hobbit.
Saul Zaentz is survived by a four children and seven grandchildren, as well as his nephew, Paul Zaentz, a producer.