Manager and producer J.C. Spink, who founded Benderspink with Chis Bender and produced comedies like “The Hangover,” died Tuesday at his home in West Hollywood, the Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed to Variety. He was 45.
Spink was found unresponsive in his home by his brother and pronounced dead at 8:18 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the coroner. A cause of death has not yet been revealed. An autopsy will be conducted, and he appeared to have died of natural causes. Foul play is not currently suspected.
The relentlessly upbeat Spink was well-liked by the Hollywood community for his good humor and industriousness. Even as the spec market began to dry up in Hollywood over the past decade, Spink remained as active as ever with dozen of projects in development. And while he was known for his ability to package specs, Spink also made sure to stay busy on branded material, whether it was his “Hangover” franchise or the upcoming live-action “Mulan” pic at Disney.
While many execs and producers often give into displays of temper and brashness, Spink had a reputation for being polite and kind no matter what the circumstances — whether it was over the phone or at a movie premiere.
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Spink was a Philadelphia native who met Bender at Bucknell University. He and Bender formed their company in 1998 after the two had worked as assistants at Zide-Perry Productions, where Bender received a co-producing credit on “American Pie.”
Spink focused mostly on management while Bender focused on producing. The duo had a longtime first-look deal through New Line starting in 2001. They delivered mid-budget titles such as “Horrible Bosses” and “The Butterfly Effect” franchises, “Vacation,” “Just Friends,” “A History of Violence,” “We’re the Millers,” “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” the “Arthur” reboot and “Monster-in-Law.”
New Line issued a statement Wednesday: “We are all deeply saddened to learn of J.C.’s passing. J.C. was a groundbreaking manager, producer, partner, and dear friend of New Line’s for over 20 years. He was an innovator who helped re-shape the industry and leaves behind a legacy of classic films. We will forever miss his tremendous humor and infectious passion. We extend our deepest condolences to his family.”
Friends and business associates, such as “Baywatch” writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, tweeted that they were heartbroken by his death.
“The Secret Life of Pets” writer Brian Lynch remembered him as “a good guy, a funny guy.”
“A History of Violence” received the most critical praise for a Benderspink title with two Oscar nominations. “We’re the Millers,” which took over a decade to develop, was their top grossing movie at $270 million worldwide.
Benderspink generated mostly comedies, starting with 2001’s “Cats & Dogs.” Bender played a key role in the development of “The Hangover” franchise, by suggesting that the plot could involve a bachelor party gone wrong, inspired by his brother’s spec script “One Night.”
Spink and Bender announced in May that they were dissolving the management and production company. Bender went on to form Good Fear Film and Management with former Benderspink staffers Jake Wagner and Jake Weiner.
Bender and Spink were involved in several non-Warner Bros. projects — “The Ring” and “Ride Along” franchises, “I Am Number Four” and Kevin Costner’s action-thriller “Criminal.” Former Benderspink employees include producers Roy Lee and Mason Novick, “The Vampire Diaries” showrunner Julie Plec, Studio 8 executive Jon Silk, Management 360 manager Jill McElroy and Mosaic manager Langley Perer.
Spink is survived by two brothers, Brian and Dan; and his parents Marsh and Helyn. Funeral arrangements are pending.