David L. Wolper

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David L. Wolper
David L. Wolper.jpg
David Lloyd Wolper

(1928-01-11)January 11, 1928
DiedAugust 10, 2010(2010-08-10) (aged 82)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
Occupationtelevision and film producer
Spouse(s)Toni Carroll (1953–1955; divorced)
Margaret Dawn Richard (1958–1969; divorced; 3 children)
Gloria Diane Hill (1974–2010; his death)

David Lloyd Wolper (January 11, 1928 – August 10, 2010) was an American television and film producer, responsible for shows such as Roots, The Thorn Birds, and North and South, and the theatrically-released films L.A. Confidential and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). He was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 57th Academy Awards in 1985 for his work producing the opening and closing ceremonies of the XXIIIrd Olympiad, Los Angeles 1984 as well as helping to bring the games to L.A. His 1971 film (as executive producer) about the study of insects, The Hellstrom Chronicle, won an Academy Award.

Life and career[edit]

Wolper was born in New York City, into an eastern European Jewish family, the son of Anna (née Fass) and Irving S. Wolper.[1] He briefly attended Drake University in Des Moines Iowa before transferring to the University of Southern California.[2]

Wolper directed the 1959 documentary The Race for Space, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and others including Biography (1961–63), The Making of the President 1960 (1963) and Four Days in November (1964). Wolper then sold his company to Metromedia for $3.6 million in 1964.[3] In October 1968, he paid $750,000 to leave Metromedia and took six films projects with him.[4] The pre-1968 library is owned by Cube Entertainment (formerly International Creative Exchange), while the post-1970 library (along with Wolper's production company, Wolper Productions, now known as The Wolper Organization[5][6]) has been owned by Warner Bros. since November 1976.[7]

In 1969, Wolper received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[8]

He won an Academy Award for the 1971 film The Hellstrom Chronicle, about the study of insects, which he executive produced. He also produced numerous documentaries and documentary series including The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (TV) (1968), Appointment With Destiny (1971–73 TV series), Visions of Eight (1973), This Is Elvis (1981), Imagine: John Lennon (1988) and others.

On March 13, 1974, one of his crews filming a National Geographic history of Australopithecus at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was killed when their Sierra Pacific Airlines Corvair 440 slammed into the White Mountains shortly after takeoff from Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop, California, killing all 35 on board, including 31 Wolper crew members. The filmed segment was recovered in the wreckage and was broadcast in the television series Primal Man. The cause of the crash remains unsolved.[9]

In 1984, he helped bring the Olympic Games to Los Angeles and produced the opening and closing ceremonies.[10] He was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards the following year.[10]

In 1988, Wolper was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[11] For his work on television, he had received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Wolper died on August 10, 2010, of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease at his Beverly Hills home.[12] He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Hollywood Hills cemetery.


His company was involved in the following productions. He was a distributor of the early shows, and became an executive producer with The Race for Space in 1958.[13]

Year Show
1949 Funny Bunnies (36 episodes)
1953 Adventures of Superman (90 episodes)
1954 Baseball Hall of Fame (75 episodes)
1954 O.S.S. (32 episodes)
1954 Grand Ole Opry (39 episodes)
1955 Congressional Investigator (26 episodes)
1958 Men from Boys - The First Eight Weeks
1958 The Race for Space
1959 Project: Man in Space
1960 Hollywood: The Golden Years
1961 Biography of a Rookie: The Willie Davis Story
1961 The Rafer Johnson Story
1962 Hollywood: The Great Stars
1962 Hollywood: The Fabulous Era
1962 D-Day June 6, 1944
1962 Biography
1962–1963 Story of...
1963 Hollywood and the Stars
1963 Escape to Freedom
1963 Kreboizen and Cancer: Thirteen Years of Bitter Conflict
1963 The Passing Years: Rework of Story of a Year 1927
1963 The Making of the President, 1960
1963–1964 Specials for United Artists
1964 The Legend of Marilyn Monroe
1964 The Quest for Peace
1964 A Thousand Days: A Tribute to John Fitzgerald Kennedy
1964 Men in Crisis
1964 Four Days in November
1965 France: Conquest to Liberation
1965 Korea: The 38th Parallel
1965 Prelude to War (Beginning of World War II)
1965 Japan: A New Dawn over Asia (Japan in the 20th Century)
1965 007: The Incredible World of James Bond
1965 Let My People Go: The Story of Israel
1965 October Madness: The World Series
1965 Race for the Moon
1965 Miss Television U.S.A.
1965 The Really Big Family: The Duke of Seattle & Their 18 Children
1965 Revolution in Our Time
1965 The Bold Men
1965 The General
1965 The Teenage Revolution
1965 The Way Out Men
1965 In Search of Man
1965 Pro Football: Mayhem On A Sunday Afternoon
1965 Revolution in the 3 R's
1965 The Thin Blue Line
1965 In Search of Man
1965 Silent Partners
1965–1966 The March of Time
1965–1975 National Geographic Society Specials
1966 The Making of the President, 1964
1966 Wall Street Where the Money Is
1966 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House
1966 Destination Safety
1966 China: Roots of Madness
1966–1968 The World of Animals
1967 The Big Land
1967 A Nation of Immigrants
1967 Untamed World
1967 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Hollywood
1967 Movin' with Nancy
1967–1968 Do Blondes Have More Fun?
1967–1968 The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
1968 Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
1968 The Dangerous Years
1968 California
1968 With Love, Sophia
1968 Monte Carlo: C'est La Rose
1968 Sophia: A Self Portrait
1968 The Highlights of the Ice Capades 1968
1968 On the Trail of Stanley and Livingstone
1968 Hollywood: The Selznick Years
1968 The Devil's Brigade
1968 The Making of the President, 1968
1969 The Bridge at Remagen
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
1969 Los Angeles: Where It's At
1970 The Unfinished Journey of Robert F. Kennedy
1970 I Love My Wife
1970–1972 The Plimpton Specials
1971 Say Goodbye
1971 They've Killed President Lincoln
1971 The Hellstrom Chronicle
1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
1971–1973 Appointment With Destiny
1972 King, Queen, Knave
1972 One Is a Lonely Number
1972 Here Comes Tomorrow: The Fear Fighters
1972 Republican Party Films
1972 Make Mine Red, White and Blue
1972 Top of The Month (3 half-hour specials)
1972 Of Thee I Sing
1972–1973 The Explorers
1973 The 500 Pound Jerk
1973 Wattstax
1973 Visions of Eight
1973–1974 Primal Man Specials
1973–1975 The American Heritage Specials
1974 This Week In The NBA (Series of 20 half-hours)
1974 NBA Game of the Week Featurettes
1974 Get Christie Love!
1974 Judgment Specials
1974 The Morning After
1974 Unwed Father
1974 Men of the Dragon
1974 The First Woman President
1974 Love from A to Z
1974 Birds Do It, Bees Do It
1974 The Animal Within
1974 Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
1974–1975 Get Christie Love!
1974–1975 Smithsonian Specials
1974–1975 Sandburg's Lincoln
1974–1976 Chico and the Man
1975 Death Stalk
1975 I Will Fight No More Forever
1975–1976 Welcome Back, Kotter
1976 Brenda Starr
1976 Collision Course
1976 Celebration: The American Spirit
1976 The Unexplained
1976 Victory At Entebbe
1976 Mysteries of the Great Pyramids
1977 Roots
1978 Roots: One Year Later
1978 The Little Mermaid (Anderusen dowa: Ningyo hime or Andersen Story: The Mermaid Princess)
1978 Roots: The Next Generations
1980 The Man Who Saw Tomorrow
1980 Moviola
1981 This Is Elvis
1981 Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter
1981 Small World
1981 Murder Is Easy
1982 The Mystic Warrior
1982 Casablanca
1983 The Thorn Birds
1984 XXIIIrd Olympiad, Los Angeles 1984
1984 His Mistress
1985 North and South
1986 North and South: Book II
1986 Liberty Weekend
1987 The Betty Ford Story
1987 Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story
1988 What Price Victory
1988 Imagine: John Lennon
1988 Roots: The Gift
1989 The Plot to Kill Hitler
1989 Murder in Mississippi
1990 Warner Bros. Celebration of Tradition, June 2, 1990
1990 Dillinger
1990 When You Remember Me
1991 Best of the Worst
1991 Bed of Lies
1992 Celebrations
1992 Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald
1993 Celebration of a Life: Steven J. Ross Chairman of Time Warner
1993 The Flood: Who Will Save Our Children?
1994 Heaven and Hell: North and South Book III
1994 On Trial
1994 Golf - The Greatest Game
1994 Heroes of the Game
1994 Without Warning
1994 Murder in the First
1995 Prince for a Day
1996 The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years
1996 Surviving Picasso
1997 L.A. Confidential
1998 Terror at the Mall
1998 Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary Show
1998 A Will of Their Own
1998 Confirmation
1998 Legends, Icons and Superstars
1999 To Serve and Protect
1999 Celebrate the Century

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David L. Wolper Biography (1928-)". filmreference.com.
  2. ^ "Emmy award-winning "˜Roots' producer, Drake alum, dies at 82". news.drake.edu/. August 31, 2010.
  3. ^ "METROMEDIA BUYS WOLPER CONCERN; Producer Gets $3.6 Million for Documentary Unit". The New York Times. October 23, 1964. p. 35. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Wolper Recovers (At a Price) Indie Status: Plans Two Theatricals Yearly". Variety. January 15, 1969. p. 17.
  5. ^ "Applications Received (Warner Communications Inc.)". Federal Register. October 13, 1976. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "Permitted (Warner Communications Inc.)". Federal Register. November 26, 1976. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  7. ^ "Producer David L. Wolper and his company..." Los Angeles Times. July 27, 1988. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  8. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  9. ^ "'Primal Man' Crash". Check-six.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  10. ^ a b "Academy Votes Hersholt Award To David Wolper". Daily Variety. February 15, 1985. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
  12. ^ "David Wolper, producer of 'Roots,' has died". Associated Press. 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  13. ^ "Filmography". David L. Wolper. Retrieved 2012-06-18.

External links[edit]