Allen J. Schwalb, a financier of major motion pictures including “Dirty Harry,” “Rocky,” “Rambo” and “Rain Man,” died on July 14. He was 76.
Most recently, in late 2013, Schwalb’s Star Partners Inc. and Nashville-based Hummingbird Productions and its founder Bob Farnsworth had announced that the two companies would be collaborating on the production of a new film entitled “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” which originated with Farnsworth as a sequel to the 1946 holiday film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Despite Schwalb’s death, Star Partners remains committed to assist with arranging the financing of the new film.
After working in aerospace, Schwalb started to invest in the work of recording artists such as Kiss and Donna Summer at Casablanca Records.
During this time, Schwalb saw a production of “Annie” in a small theater in Connecticut and thereafter helped bring the musical to Broadway. where it became one of the most successful musicals in history, with a continuous, multi-decade run.
Perhaps a logical progression from Broadway, Schwalb then began to invest in films. He started providing capital to many independent films produced through mini-majors such as Carolco and Orion. These early films included “Rocky” and “Rambo.”
Through his now-formed company Star Partners, Schwalb entered into exclusive financing arrangements with the major motion picture studios. He was general partner of seven successful Star Partners Limited Partnerships in joint ventures with Warner Bros., MGM and United Artists. Over more than a decade, Schwalb and his Star Partners company financed seven slates of films, including “Thelma & Louise,” “Dirty Harry,” “Moonstruck” and “Rain Man.”
Star Partners films have received 64 Academy Award nominations and have won 16 Academy Awards.
In 1989, Star Partners films won Oscars for four of its five nominated films during that year – these include the Academy Award for best musical score for “Round Midnight” and best picture for “Rain Man.” In total, Star Partners films were nominated for the best picture Oscar every year for six consecutive years, with the one win for “Rain Man.”
Schwalb later became involved in the professional sports industry and was one of the initial limited partners in the NBA expansion franchise of the Orlando Magic.
Through another of his companies, Professional Sports Investments, Inc., Schwalb was later involved with the brokering and financing of numerous other professional sports franchises, and assisted with the funding of the expansion of the well-known World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Most recently, Schwalb reimmersed himself into the film industry and began by focusing on the financing of independent films.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Schwalb sang backup vocals for some of the great doo-wop and popular bands at the time, including Jay & The Americans.
He earned five masters degrees in astronautics, math and finance-related fields and began his professional life in the aerospace industry, where he designed rocket propulsion systems for the early space program.
Schwalb began investing his money in the stock market. With immediate success, he got the attention of his fellow scientists and started to invest their money as well. Leaving aerospace behind, he continued to invest in various companies, which led to his involvement with the music industry and then the film industry.
Although Schwalb’s Star Partners was based in Orlando, Florida, he personally resided for more than seven years in the Howard Hughes suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel.