Art and Experience:

Jerome Hellman, the producer behind “Midnight Cowboy” and “Coming Home,” died on Wednesday, his wife Elizabeth Empleton Hellman confirmed. He was 92.

His work on landmark films helped define the new Hollywood of the 1970s. From 1964 to 1986, Hellman collaborated with notable directors including John Schlesinger on “The Day of the Locust” and “Midnight Cowboy,” Irvin Kershner on “A Fine Madness,” Hal Ashby on “Coming Home,” Peter Weir on “The Mosquito Coast” and George Roy Hill on “The World of Henry Orient.”

On the 1969 best picture winner “Midnight Cowboy,” Hellman was known to have advocated for Dustin Hoffman despite Schlesinger’s wishes. The film, which was X-rated, broke ground by portraying homosexuality, prostitution and nudity on the big screen.


In 1979, Hellman was set to team up with Schlesinger again for “Promises in the Dark,” but when the director dropped out, Hellman took the reins and made the film his directorial debut.

That same year, Hellman also picked up his first and only acting credit on Ashby’s “Being There,” about an ordinary gardener who unexpectedly becomes a trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics. Hellman appeared alongside Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas.

Throughout his career, Hellman’s films won several awards, with “Midnight Cowboy” taking home best picture, best director and best screenplay based on material from another medium. “Coming Home,” which made $32 million at the box office, also won three Oscars, including best actor, best actress and best screenplay written directly for the screen. Hellman also received a nomination for best picture.

Hellman started out as a New York talent agent, turning to producing live TV dramas and then feature films starting with “The World of Henry Orient.”

Hellman is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.

Source: Variety