|Born||Ilya Juan Salkind Dominguez
August 27, 1947
Mexico City, Mexico
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
(m. 1976; div. 1979)
(m. 1980; div. 1984)
(m. 1985; div. 1999)
Ilya Juan Salkind Dominguez (born August 27, 1947), usually known as Ilya Salkind, is a film and television producer, well known for his contributions to the live-action Superman films of the 1970s and '80s alongside his father, Alexander Salkind.
Early life and career
Ilya Salkind was born August 27, 1947 in Mexico City, Mexico, the son of Berta Domínguez, a Mexican novelist, and producer Alexander Salkind. At the age of one, Salkind was photographed sitting on the lap of Zsa Zsa Gabor. His grandfather, Mikhail Salkind, was one of the pioneers of silent films and produced Joyless Street (1925), featuring then-relatively-unknown Greta Garbo in her first major role. Afterwards, Mikhail, along with Ilya's own father, Alexander Salkind, joined their forces to supervise many successful films, from Orson Welles' The Trial (1962) to Abel Gance's Austerlitz (1959). Beginning in 1969, Ilya Salkind became the third generation of this legendary film-making dynasty. He and Alexander made numerous films, starting with the international box office hits The Three Musketeers (1973) and its 1974 follow-up, The Four Musketeers films, the first instance of which a major motion picture and its immediate sequel were shot simultaneously.
Superman film series
Ilya and Alexander, along with producing partner Pierre Spengler, purchased the film rights to the Superman property in August 1974. It was agreed that the Salkinds would produce and supervise filming on Superman and Superman II simultaneously, as had been the case with The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. Securing the film rights from DC Comics was an unbearable experience for the producers, as Spengler was forced to spend two weeks in meetings with DC executives for the specific purpose of establishing an "Integrity of the character" clause. However, the producers did make sure DC approved of every aspect of the film (including dialogue). At this point in time Muhammad Ali, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, James Caan, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen were being considered for the leading role of Superman.
William Goldman was approached to write the script, but chose not to do so, as Ilya Salkind had personally cited certain creative differences with Goldman. Eventually, Ilya would hire Godfather author Mario Puzo. The desperate search for a director then took place. Steven Spielberg expressed high interest and Salkind felt comfortable in hiring him upon being impressed with his work on Duel and The Sugarland Express, though his father was skeptical, feeling that Spielberg was not famous enough and claimed they needed to wait until "that fish movie of his" was released. Jaws was released with unanimous success, though by this time it was too late as Spielberg opted to do Close Encounters of the Third Kind instead.
Peter Yates was interested in directing, and was briefly involved in negotiations though the deal collapsed. Both William Friedkin and Sam Peckinpah were also offered the chance to direct. Friedkin turned down the offer outright, while Peckinpah dropped out of the running when he produced a gun during a meeting with Salkind. Richard Lester, Guy Hamilton, George Lucas, John Guillermin and Ronald Neame were then considered though Lucas was dropped as Salkind found out he was too committed on Star Wars (A New Hope). It was decided to go with Hamilton, in light of the fact that Salkind was impressed with Hamilton's work as director of, among other projects, Goldfinger and Battle of Britain.
Salkind originally recommended Mario Puzo to write the script as a serious science fiction epic. Although Puzo did impress him with certain aspects, Salkind felt the script remained intact with being overall campy, as did Guy Hamilton. In addition they cited too much "Greek tragedy and Shakespearean" elements. A fourth villain sentenced to the Phantom Zone named Zak-Ur appeared as a comedic henchman. By this time, Puzo felt he "could do all he could," turning in two drafts, and David Newman and Robert Benton were hired for rewrite work, as a means to delete objectionable material concerning an excessive amount of comedic scenes. Leslie Newman was brought in once Benton left to direct The Late Show.
Casting started to take place, as Alexander Salkind wanted a famous actor in the role of Superman. Dustin Hoffman was once again highly considered though the idea was dropped. Robert Redford was offered the part, but he felt he was too famous and was not right for the role, as did Burt Reynolds. After the success of Rocky, Sylvester Stallone lobbied hard for the role but was ignored. Paul Newman was offered all three roles of Superman, Jor-El and Lex Luthor to his choosing though he did not accept any of them, for a salary of $4 million. Nick Nolte and Rex Harrison would both turn it down. It was decided to focus on casting Jor-El and Lex Luthor and save Superman for later. Hoffman was then offered the role of Luthor, and although he was interested, he turned it down. Marlon Brando would eventually be cast as Jor-El, causing Gene Hackman to be cast as Luthor as he wanted desperately to work with Brando. Impressed by the producers' ability to cast famous actors in respective roles, Warner Brothers decided to distribute the film internationally, rather than simply domestically.
Sets were then being initiated in Rome, Italy as well as having flying tests being experimented. However, Brando could not go to Rome as there was still a warrant out for his arrest due to the sexual obscenity of his role in Last Tango in Paris. It was decided to move the production to England but Hamilton himself was a tax exile from his native country, which only allowed him to spend no more than 60 days a year. The director was forced to drop out because of Brando's actions and by this time six million dollars had already been spent on the production. Mark Robson was then in negotiations to direct after Salkind was impressed with his work on Earthquake. However, after viewing Richard Donner's The Omen it was decided otherwise.
The Salkinds' last journey into film fantasy was 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie. That same year, DC Comics named Salkind as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Superman film franchise.
The Salkinds returned to the Superman mythology again in 1988, this time as a TV series, with Superboy, starring John Haymes Newton in the title role during its first year, Gerard Christopher as the Boy of Steel for the remainder of the show's existence, and Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang, lasted four seasons, running for 100 episodes. Following the team's last film, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992), Ilya and his then-wife, Jane Chaplin (daughter of Charlie Chaplin) settled in Orlando, Florida, where much of the Superboy series had been filmed. There, Ilya and Jane took a sabbatical and devoted their time to raising their two sons. In 1999, the couple amicably separated.
Ilya Salkind Company
Returning to Los Angeles in 2003, the producer launched the Ilya Salkind Company in the late summer of that year. The company's first project, Young Alexander the Great, was shot on location in Greece and Egypt was released in December 2010. The company has several major motion pictures slated for the coming years.
On the DVD release of Superboy: The Complete First Season in 2006, Salkind appeared in the documentary featurette "Superboy: Getting Off the Ground" and provided audio commentary with series star John Haymes Newton on two episodes. He also recently appeared in the 2006 television documentary Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman talking about his time producing the Superman films. He also provided audio commentary along with producer Pierre Spengler for the 2006 DVD releases of Superman: The Movie (Four-Disc Collector's Edition), Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition), and Superman III (Deluxe Edition). As of 2010, The Ilya Salkind Company has been dissolved.
Salkind, who was born in Mexico City, traveled south of the border to handle a property he inherited from his mother who died a few years ago. The 63-year-old was staying at his family's home in Tepoztlán. On February 2, 2011, Salkind's long-time business partner filed a missing persons report with Mexican authorities, Salkind having left his cell phone at his Mexico City estate on January 30, telling his staff that he was going to run errands, and not having been seen since. Family and friends became alarmed when he failed to show up for a dentist's appointment the following day. Investigators on February 3 located Salkind in a local hospital, where he was reported to be under sedation.
At present, Ilya Salkind continues to tour conventions all over the world talking about his contributions to the Superman film series.
Salkind has had three wives. The first, whom he married in 1976, was Skye Aubrey, with whom he had two children. The couple divorced in 1979. His second marriage was to Patricia Bonnet in 1980. The couple had one child and were divorced in 1984. He married a third time the following year, this time to Jane Chaplin, daughter of the legendary Charlie Chaplin. They had two sons together, but eventually divorced in 1999.
- "Ilya Salkind: The Super Producer Who Got Superman off the Ground" (Part one of three) article and interview by Anthony Petkovich, FILMFAXplus magazine, summer 2013, number 134 (cover). Filmfax, Inc., Evanston, Illinois USA. Twelve pages (84-92, 102-104) with 38 personal and movie-related black-and-white photographs, mostly behind-the-scenes production stills from the various Superman films.
- "An Interview with Producer Ilya Salkind: From Superman to Supergirl to Superboy and Beyond" (Part two of three) article and interview by Anthony Petkovich, FILMFAXplus magazine, fall 2013, number 135 (cover). Filmfax, Inc., Evanston, Illinois USA. Eight pages (92-99) with 36 personal and movie-related black-and-white photographs.
- "An Interview with Producer Ilya Salkind: From The Three Musketeers to Santa Claus and Beyond" (Part three of three) article and interview by Anthony Petkovich, FILMFAXplus magazine, winter 2014, number 136 (cover). Filmfax, Inc., Evanston, Illinois USA. Eight pages (92-99) with 27 personal and movie-related black-and-white photographs. Total of parts 1-3: 28 pages Q & A, 101 photos from Salkind's personal collection, production stills, and studio advertising.
- You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman (DVD). Warner Brothers. 2006.
- Superman (1978) Audio Commentary by Producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (DVD). Warner Brothers. 2006.
- Taking Flight: The Development of Superman (DVD). Warner Brothers. 2001.
- Marx, Barry, Cavalieri, Joey and Hill, Thomas (w), Petruccio, Steven (a), Marx, Barry (ed). "Ilya Salkind A New Vision of the Legend" Fifty Who Made DC Great: 42 (1985), DC Comics
- TMZ Staff (2 February 2011). "Legendary 'Superman' Producer -- Missing In Mexico". TMZ. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Sheridan, Michael (3 February 2011). "Ilya Salkind, 'Superman' producer, found alive after being reported missing in Mexico". New York Daily News.
- Noyes, Jack (3 February 2011). "Superman Producer Missing in Mexico". NBC Los Angeles.