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Sam Waynberg dies at 86

Distributor produced Polanski, Fassbinder films

Sam Waynberg, who produced films by Polanski and Fassbinder as well as most of the films in the long-running Israeli “Lemon Popsicle” sex-comedy franchise, died on Dec. 3 in Gstaad, Switzerland. He was 86.

Born in Poland, Waynberg was interred in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, after which he remained in Germany and worked as both a producer and distributor.

During the 1990s, Waynberg’s company, Scotia, distributed Miramax films in Germany, but Waynberg filed a lawsuit in 2001, claiming that Miramax had overpriced its films and failed to deliver acceptable movies (he ultimately lost).

Waynberg got his start as exec producer of the German war documentary “Er ging an meiner Seite” (He walked by my side) in 1958. He was associated producer of Roman Polanski’s 1965 classic “Repulsion” and exec produced his 1966 film “Cul-de-sac,” and he was associate producer of the 1965 Sherlock Holmes-Jack the Ripper feature “A Study in Terror.” Waynberg produced Andrzej Wajda’s “Gates to Paradise” (1968) and then a pair of sexually experimental films, “Psychology of the Orgasm” and “Lovers Paradise” as well as the 1971 music concert documentary “Stamping Ground,” which featured Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds and Pink Floyd.

The first “Lemon Popsicle” film was produced by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan. Waynberg became involved in the series as an exec producer starting with the second movie, “Going Steady,” and also scripted 1981 and 1986 entries “Hot Bubblegum” and “Lemon Popsicle 6.”

Waynberg’s efforts remained eclectic, however: He was a producer on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1982 film “Querelle” and produced 1983 French crime drama “Un dimanche de flic.”

On the distribution side, Waynberg mentored international film broker Gordon Steel, becoming the latter’s first client in 1982. Their first deal was for the release of “Rambo,” which proved highly successful for Waynberg’s Scotia.

Waynberg is survived by his wife, Gabriella.

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