Robert A. Katz, the producer behind projects such as “Gettysburg,” “Selena” and “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” died on Wednesday after a long battle with lung cancer, his family announced Thursday. He was 79.
Katz was the co-founder of Esparza/Katz Productions along with Moctesuma Esparza. Together, the duo produced over 20 projects, including the films “Telephone,” “Gettysburg,” “Granada,” “Selena” and “Gods and Generals.” In television, the production company was behind “Rough Riders,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” and “Walkout.”
In 1988, Katz produced “Shoeshine,” which received an Oscar nomination in the Best Live Action Short Film category.
Recently, Katz had been working on a variety of projects, including the feature length film “Delfino’s Journey” based on the novel and screenplay by Jo Harper. He also was serving as an executive producer on a mini-series about the life of General Norman Schwarzkopf based on his autobiography “It Doesn’t Take a Hero.”
Katz was born on February 7, 1943 in Los Angeles where he grew up, graduated high school and attended college. After college, he served in the U.S. Marines as a jet fighter pilot where he helped to train the Israeli Air Force in the mid-1960s. Following his honorable discharge, he was a bush pilot in Africa traveling with documentary film crews. Inspired by this work, Katz transitioned to become a filmmaker, producing more than 70 documentaries for French and American television about the wars of liberation in Africa.
Katz was also a founder of Medcom, Inc., a medical education company which he successfully took public. Katz was an early pioneer in the home video market producing exercise projects with Jane Fonda, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others.
An avid aviation enthusiast, Katz was a founding member of Showhawks, an entertainment industry flying club based in Los Angeles.
Katz is survived by his wife Patricia Brown along with a stepdaughter, Victoria Flores, and two step-grandchildren, Skyler and Adysun, from a prior marriage to Pamela Katz, who preceded him in death.