Howard G. Minsky, a longtime agent and the Oscar-nommed producer of “Love Story,” died Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla., said his son-in-law Michael Halperin. He was 94.
Minsky started out in showbiz during the silent film era, distributing fliers door to door when he was 8 years old in exchange for free admission to the neighborhood theater. By age 23, he was working for Warner Bros., a stint interrupted when he joined the Navy from 1943-45. He later was an exec at Fox and Paramount, and an agent at William Morris, where his belief in a client led to his greatest success.
In the late ’60s, Minsky’s WMA client list included Erich Segal, who had written a script about young lovers touched by tragedy. When Minsky couldn’t get anyone to buy Segal’s script, he quit WMA to shepherd the project himself.
He got the script to Ali McGraw, who loved it immediately, and got a greenlight to make the film from Robert Evans and Paramount.
“Love Story” turned out to be a blockbuster in 1970, winning five Golden Globes, including best picture, and was a shot in the arm for Par at a time when the studio was struggling. The pic was nominated for seven Oscars, winning for music. Ryan O’Neal, Ali McGraw and John Marley got acting noms, Arthur Hiller was nommed for direction, Segal for screenplay and Minsky for picture.
Remembered Hiller in a 2001 interview with Barnes&Noble.com: “All through production, Howard Minsky kept telling me, ‘Believe me, this is going to be something special. Just believe me.’ After the picture came out and did so well, and after I’d heard from so many people who told me how deeply it affected them, I wrote Howard a card with four simple words: ‘Thank you. I believe.’ ”
Minsky produced one other pic, 1973’s Robby Benson Western, “Jory,” on which Minsky’s son, Barry, was an associate producer.
Minsky wrote his own love story, about his 65-year marriage to Sylvia, in “The Love of My Life: The Memoirs of Howard J. Minsky,” with Natalie Peters in 2007. Sylvia died in 2002.
Survivors include his daughter Marcia Halperin and son Barry.