Fred Weintraub, producer of the Bruce Lee cult classic Enter the Dragon, has died. He was 88. His daughter Sandra confirmed that he died March 5 at his Pacific Palisades home of Parkinson’s complications.
In the early ‘60s, Weintraub opened the Bitter End coffee house in New York and helped launch the careers of notables such as Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Barbara Streisand, Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, George Carlin, Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Joan Rivers, Frank Zappa and Cheech & Chong among others. He also hosted a weekly television show with his St. Bernard at at his feet, titled Live at the Bitter End.
In the late-’60s, he became the VP Creative Services at Warner Bros. and served on the Board of Directors. His first project was the documentary Woodstock, which, per his daughter, was a tough sell but “according to Artie Kornfeld, Promoter and Co-Creator of the Woodstock Festival, ‘Freddie had told the guys on the Board he would quit if we did not close the deal to film Woodstock.’”
After being offered his own production company in 1972, he developed Lee’s Enter the Dragon. The film defied preconceived industry prejudices, created a worldwide martial arts craze and made Lee a big star.
Weintraub produced more than 40 films and television movies, including Rage with George C. Scott, High Road to China with Tom Selleck, Jackie Chan’s first American film Battle Creek Brawl and the Steve McQueen-starring Tom Horn. He also pioneered a Lithuania-U.S. co-production on the TV series The New Adventures of Robin Hood and published his memoir, Bruce Lee, Woodstock and Me, in 2011.
Weintraub is survived by his wife, Jackie; children Sandra, Barbara, Max and Zachary; and four grandchildren.