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Stuart Cornfeld, Producer of ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘Zoolander,’ Dies at 67

Stuart Cornfeld'The Secret Life of Walter
Carolyn Contino/BEI/Shutterstock

Stuart Cornfeld, who worked with Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films to produce movies including “Tropic Thunder,” “Dodgeball” and “Zoolander,” has died of cancer.

Several of his friends posted about his death on social media.

At Red Hour, which he founded with Stiller in 1999, he also produced “Duplex” starring Stiller and Drew Barrymore, “Starsky & Hutch,” “Blades of Glory” and “The Ruins.” One of the last films he produced was “The Polka King,” starring Jack Black. Stiller said on Twitter, “Stuart Cornfeld was as funny, smart, talented & cool as a person gets.”

Earlier in his career, Cornfeld produced films including David Cronenberg’s “The Fly,” “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Kafka.”

He played small parts in several movies, including a memorable turn as the Pirate King of Captain Hook Fish ‘n Chips in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Cornfeld got his start working as assistant to Mel Brooks on “High Anxiety” in 1977. After seeing David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” at Los Angeles’ Nuart Theatre, Cornfeld convinced Brooks to hire Lynch, and Brooks went on to produce “The Elephant Man,” while Cornfeld served as executive producer.

Cornfeld met Brooks’ wife Anne Bancroft while attending the American Film Institute, and produced “Fatso,” which Bancroft directed. He also served as associate producer on Brooks’ “History of the World: Part 1.”

In the 1990s, he produced Guillermo del Toro’s “Mimic,” the TV series “Fallen Angels” and Glenn Gordon Caron’s “Wilder Napalm.”

The AFI awarded him the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal in 2013.

Although Cornfeld was mostly retired, he recently produced the Netflix doc “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.” He served as exec producer on “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail.” Emily V. Gordon, a writer and cast member on the show, remembered Cornfeld on Twitter, writing “He had the best stories and jokes.”