Producer Mace Neufeld, whose credits have included hits like The Omen, The Hunt for Red October and The Equalizer over a nearly 50-year Hollywood career, has died at his Beverly Hills home.
Neufeld died peacefully in his sleep on Friday morning, according to his wife Diane Conn. He was 93 years old.
A prolific producer with old-school Hollywood charm and a resume like a Renaissance man, Neufeld had a knack for identifying qualities that would appeal to a wide audience, regardless of genre. However, he has found some of his greatest successes in thrillers, bringing five films starring Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan to the big screen, including Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears. as “No Way Out” (1987) with Kevin Costner and “The Equalizer” (2014) with Denzel Washington.
“I’ve been blessed to have the privilege of working with Mace on several of his films, including the Jack Ryan series,” said Sherry Lansing, former President of Paramount Pictures. “Mace was an exceptional producer and the films he made will live on forever.”
The son of a New York stockbroker, Neufeld studied 17th-century metaphysical poetry at Yale before turning to the entertainment business. After working as a songwriter (Sammy Davis Jr. recorded his song “Blues to End the Blues”), Neufeld established himself as a successful talent manager and built a roster of clients including Randy Newman, Don Knotts, Captain & Tennille, The Carpenters and Jim Croce.
After moving to Los Angeles, Neufeld began producing television and films in the 1970s and had an instant hit with the 1976 horror film The Omen. The film, which centered on a creepy, demonic boy named Damien and starred Gregory Peck, went on to become one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of the year.
“He was a big risk taker,” said Neufeld’s son-in-law, screenwriter and producer Trey Callaway. “He mortgaged his house to do The Omen and then he just never looked back.
“But I think the reason people hold him in such high esteem is because he’s always put the project and the artists first. He never cared about the deal. It was always, “How do I find the best people to help me tell the best story?”
In 1990, Neufeld brought Clancy’s Jack Ryan to the big screen with The Hunt for Red October, in which Sean Connery played a Soviet submarine captain who wanted to defect with Alec Baldwin’s Ryan. The film grossed more than $200 million worldwide and spawned an enduring franchise that over the years would see some of Hollywood’s most prominent leading actors play Ryan, including Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.
“Mace was a showman from another era, a minstrel on a seemingly never-ending quest for the next story to share with the world,” director Phillip Noyce, who directed two Jack Ryan films, told Patriot Games 1992 and 1994’s Clear and Present, Danger, and 1997’s The Saint, which Neufeld produced.
“A few days ago, when his body was obviously slowing down from old age, he still urged me to take home three books that he wanted to adapt for a new movie,” Noyce added. “And before I left, he broke into song and perfectly recited the full lyrics of a 1937 hit that had captured his imagination as a teenager. “
In fact, Neufeld continued working late in his life, serving as executive producer of the Amazon series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, with John Krasinski taking on the role.
“You go out and you find good stuff and you stick with it and you don’t give up,” Neufeld told The Times in 2014. “I think I’ll keep making films as long as I can tie my own shoelaces.”
Neufeld, who was predeceased by his first wife Helen, is survived by his wife, children Bradley, Glenn and Nancy, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-01-21/producer-mace-neufeld-dies Mace Neufeld, producer of The Omen and Jack Ryan, dies