‘Selena’ producer Robert Katz dies at 79

Deadline reports that Robert Katz, the television and film producer known for such movies as Selena and Gettysburg, has died at the age of 79. 

The news of Katz’s passing was recently announced by his family.

Katz is said to have passed away at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, California, on Wednesday. The passing, according to his family, followed a long battle with lung cancer.

Katz’s road to film producer

Born in Los Angeles, California, Katz, after graduating high school and attending college, would go on to serve in the U.S. Marines where he was a jet fighter pilot.

In the 1960s, Katz would help to train the Israeli Air Force, and his time with the Marines would end with an honorable discharge.

After that, Katz became a bush pilot in Africa. During this time, he traveled with a lot of documentary film crews. And, it is these encounters that inspired Katz to become a filmmaker.

Katz would go on to produce over 70 documentaries about the wars of liberation in Africa. He shot the films, which were mostly intended for American and French audiences, with the independence forces in modern-day Zimbabwe and other nearby countries.

Katz’s Hollywood success

Katz would go on to co-found Esparza/Katz Productions, under which he produced a number of successful films.

These films included Telephone (1989), Gettysburg (1993), Granada (1996), Selena (1997), and Gods and Generals (2003). Selena would win an Imagen Award for Best Picture. Katz also produced, in 1998, a short film Shoeshine, which won an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film category.

Katz also produced a number of television shows including Rough Riders (1997), Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) and Walkout (2006). Introducing Dorothy Dandridge received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Made for TV Movie.

Fans respond

A number of fans of Katz’s work have taken to Twitter to express messages of condolence. One user wrote, “A moment of silence for Robert A. Katz.”

Katz is survived by his wife, Patricia Brown, and his stepdaughter, Victoria Flores. He is also survived by two step-grandchildren from his previous marriage to Pamela Katz. Both Pamela Katz and Tishialu Katz, Katz’s first wife, predeceased him.

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