Joseph Herman Pasternak (September 19, 1901 – September 13, 1991) was a Hungarian-born American film producer in Hollywood.
Born to a Jewish family in Szilágysomlyó, Austria-Hungary (now Șimleu Silvaniei, Sălaj County, Romania), Pasternak was a successful film producer in Germany and Austria by the time he was 28 years old. He worked for Universal Pictures in Europe, where he made German-language musicals for the international market. He hit upon a successful formula, building light musical comedies around an adolescent soprano (Franciska Gaal).
Following the establishment of the Nazi regime, Pasternak emigrated to the United Staes.
In the United States
At Universal's Hollywood studio in 1936. Pasternak cast 14-year-old Canadian singer Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls (1936). The film became a huge hit and reputedly saved Universal from bankruptcy. Pasternak produced a string of Durbin musicals, and soon discovered another talented soprano, Gloria Jean. who began her own series in 1939. Pasternak proved to be a real asset for the studio, generating a number of popular films, including Destry Rides Again (1939) and Seven Sinners (1940).
In 1941 he moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he sat on the executive committee and was regarded one of the three most important persons in the company, alongside Louis B. Mayer and Vice President Sam Katz. At MGM he continued to produce operetta films, featuring the rich singing voices of Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, although his biggest MGM success came with The Great Caruso (1951), a vehicle for Mario Lanza.
In the mid 1950s, Pasternak and Sam Katz set up the independent production company Euterpe, which, until Pasternak's retirement in 1968, produced 16 films distributed by MGM; among them musicals with Elvis Presley, Doris Day and Connie Francis.
His career as a film producer spanned 40 years and earned him two Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations. He retired in 1968, having produced more than ninety feature-length films as well as three Academy Award shows.
Pasternak is the father of Michael Joseph Pasternak, the radio disk jockey known as Emperor Rosko; Jeff Pasternak, a playwright and songwriter; and Peter Pasternak, a music industry professional.
Death and tribute
Joe Pasternak died in Beverly Hills, California from complications arising from Parkinson's disease six days shy of his 90th birthday. He is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Joe Pasternak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1541 N. Vine Street.
- Scott Eyman: Lion of Hollywood – The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, p.363 Linked 2014-01-28
- Larry Ceplair, Steven Englun: The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960, p.312 Linked 2014-01-28
- TCM: Gidget - production notes Linked 2014-01-28
- AFI: Euterpe Productions, Inc. Linked 2014-01-28
- AFI: Euterpe, Inc. Linked 2014-01-28
- IMDb: Euterpe Linked 2014-01-28