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Si Litvinoff, ‘Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Man Who Fell to Earth’ Producer, Dies at 93



Si Litvinoff, the visionary producer behind Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and the Nicolas Roeg-directed films The Man Who Fell to Earth and the Australian New Wave classic Walkabout, has died. He was 93.

Litvinoff died peacefully Dec. 26 in Los Angeles, his friend Shade Rupe announced. Rupe interviewed him for the Blu-ray release of Litvinoff’s groundbreaking 1968 film The Queenwhich revolves around a national drag queen contest.

Litvinoff also produced the London-set All the Right Noises (1970), starring Olivia Hussey, Tom Bell and Judy Carne, and executive produced a Roeg-directed documentary about the 1972 Glastonbury Fayre music festival that featured performances by Traffic, Fairport Convention, Melanie and Arthur Brown.

In 1965, Litvinoff optioned Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange for a reported $500 and sent the book to Kubrick. While paying for screenplays by Burgess, Terry Southern and Michael Cooper, the producer sought Mick Jagger to star in it, all while Kubrick refused to commit to the project.

Kubrick only signed on after Litvinoff raised $1 million and went after Roeg to direct. The dystopian classic, starring Malcolm McDowell, was finally released by Warner Bros. in 1971 and was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture.

Litvinoff and Roeg, however, did collaborate on Walkabout (1971), which told the story of two white schoolchildren (Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg, the director’s son) who get lost in the Australian Outback but are saved by an Indigenous Australian (David Gulpilil).

For The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Litvinoff and Roeg gave David Bowie his first big shot at the movies, with the rock star portraying a humanoid alien who crash-lands in New Mexico and becomes a businessman hooked on alcohol, sex and television.

“Nic had been thinking about Peter O’Toole. I was enthusiastic about David in the music world and I loved his record ‘Space Oddity,’” Litvinoff recalled.

“But it wasn’t until [ICM agent] Maggie [Abbott] provided us with the documentary Cracked Actor that we were both excited about David and knew that he was the only person to play the part.”

Born in New York on April 5, 1929, Litvinoff attended Adelphi College on an athletic scholarship and received his law degree from NYU in 1954. As a lawyer, his clients included Southern, Andy Warhol, Timothy Leary, Jim Dine, Jack Youngerman, Bea Arthur, Valerie Harper, Joel Grey, Orson Bean, Rip Torn and Alan Arkin.

In one of his first forays into producing, Litvinoff brought Hail Scrawdykewhich combined text from Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III, to Broadway. Directed by Arkin, it lasted just eight performances in 1966. (It was, however, adapted for a 1974 film, Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchswhich starred John Hurt and was produced by George Harrison.)

His theatrical productions included the John Schlesinger-directed musical I & Albert.

Litvinoff also served as senior executive in charge of production for Southern and Harry Nilsson’s Hawkeye Entertainment and was executive producer of a 1970s Doobie Brothers HBO special, “Listen to the Music.”

“He will be remembered for his quick wit, the most memorable of parties and his love of entertaining friends with stories of his fascinating experiences,” Rupe said. Litvinoff was also a collector of fine art and a connoisseur of wine and champagne, he noted.

Survivors include his sons, Ian and Bram; stepdaughter Gittel; and grandson Alek. A service is being organized.

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