Robert Chartoff: Oscar-winning producer who made the Rocky series and Raging Bull

Born in Depression-era New York City, he had been a producer for nearly a decade when he found his career-defining hit in Rocky

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The Independent Online

Robert Chartoff was the Oscar-winning film producer behind Rocky and Raging Bull. Born in Depression-era New York City, he had been a producer for nearly a decade when he found his career-defining hit in Rocky, starring and written by Sylvester Stallone. Shot in 28 days on a budget of $1m, it became the highest-grossing film of 1976 and won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Though Stallone had written the film, he had to plead with Chartoff and his partner Irwin Winkler to play the lead role of Rocky Balboa, the loan shark’s enforcer and part-time boxer who gets a shot at the world title. The duo went into production on the basis that any losses would be compensated for by the success of another of their projects, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York. In the event Rocky covered the latter’s losses.

Chartoff and Winkler went on to produce all seven movies in the Rocky series, including the forthcoming Creed, which is in post-production and due for release later this year. Chartoff worked into his eighties, his recent credits including 2013’s Ender’s Game with Harrison Ford and 2014’s The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg.

He also produced a darker take on the world of boxing in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull in 1980 – now regarded as one of the greatest American films ever made – while his other credits included The Right Stuff (1983), which won four Oscars, and 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? starring Jane Fonda in Sydney Pollacks’ depiction of the Depression-era dance marathons.  

Robert Chartoff, film producer: born New York 26 August 1933; married three times (five children); died Santa Monica, California 17 June 2015.

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