Independent producer and longtime film executive Max Youngstein, who along with four other partners purchased an ailing United Artists from Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford and turned it into a profitable studio, died Tuesdayat home in Los Angeles of natural causes. He was 84.
Youngstein, the last of the original five partners (the others were Arthur Krim, Robert Benjamin, Arnold Picker and Bill Heineman) that took over UA in February 1951, served as head of production and marketing at UA for 12 years until he struck out on his own as an independent producer.
During his tenure at UA, Youngstein not only oversaw the production end of the business, but was also founder and president of UA’s record and music business, United Artists Records & United Artists Music.
Considered the most dynamic of the quintet by far, Youngstein was attractive to the creative community because he was able to speak their language.
David Picker, who joined UA in the mid-1950s as Youngstein’s assistant and who, upon Youngstein’s departure in 1962, replaced him as head of production and marketing, noted that Youngstein was a brilliant merchandiser of movies. “No man had more influence on the independent spirit that was the heart and soul of United Artists than Max Youngstein. He was a larger-than-life personality who had a wonderfully positive influence on everyone.”
Youngstein was born March 21, 1913, in New York City. He was educated at Fordham U. and Brooklyn Law School.
In 1941, he entered the motion picture business, serving as director of advertising and publicity for 20th Century Fox. During the war years, Youngstein was director of the studio special services department.
In 1944, he became publicity director of motion picture and special events sections of the War Finance Division of the United States Treasury.
When the war ended in 1945, Youngstein worked briefly at Stanley Kramer Prods. before moving to Eagle Lion Films.
Upped to vice president in early 1949, he resigned a few months later and joined Paramount Pictures in the same capacity.
UA to indies
In February 1951, Youngstein moved over to United Artists until 1962, when he left to form his own production company, Max E. Youngstein Enterprises Inc., where he exec-produced “Best of Cinerama” and “Man in the Middle.”
He also produced the popular film “Fail Safe” (1964), the Glenn Ford-Rita Hayworth starrer “The Money Trap” (1966) and “Welcome to Hard Times” (1967), starring Henry Fonda.
In 1972, he served as VP of Todd-AO Corp., and throughout the 1970s worked for numerous production companies.
In 1996, he and partner Cheryl Christiansen formed a new production company, Worldwide Artists, with the hope that the company would be a springboard for independents.
Youngstein is survived by his wife, Reva, four daughters, Molka, who works in marketing for Columbia TriStar Intl.; Helen, a senior VP for Columbia TriStar Television; Peggy and Ruth; a son, David, who works in exhibitor relations in New York City; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations in Youngstein’s name be sent to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York or to the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills.