Irwin Winkler

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Irwin Winkler
Born (1931-05-25) May 25, 1931 (age 89)
EducationB.A. New York University
OccupationFilm director, producer
(m. after 1959)
ChildrenCharles Winkler
David Winkler
Adam Winkler
Parent(s)Sol Winkler
Anna Winkler

Irwin Winkler (born May 25, 1931) is an American film producer and director. He is the producer or director of over 50 motion pictures, dating back to 1967's Double Trouble, starring Elvis Presley. The fourth film he produced, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), starring Jane Fonda, was nominated for nine Academy Awards. He won an Oscar for Best Picture for 1976's Rocky. As a producer, he has been nominated for Best Picture for three other films: Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, and Goodfellas.

Early life and education[edit]

Winkler was born to a Jewish family[1][2] in New York City, to Sol and Anna Winkler. Growing up in Coney Island, one of his first jobs was on a bumper ride on the boardwalk.[3] Winkler graduated early from high school and got into New York University, but felt out of place among the older and more mature students, many of whom were former World War II soldiers that had entered university under the G.I. Bill. At the outbreak of the Korean War, he volunteered to join the Army and was stationed in Louisiana for two years.[3] After completing his service, Winkler returned to New York University and went on to receive a degree in American Literature in 1955.[4]

Early career[edit]

Winkler's first job after graduating university was at the William Morris Agency (WMA).[4] Starting out in the mail room, some of his fellow mailboys were Bernie Brillstein and Jerry Weintraub. Among his first clients as an agent were comedians Sammy Shore and Jackie Vernon, though Winkler says of himself he was a "mediocre" agent.[5]

After meeting Robert Chartoff, who managed several comedians, including Jackie Mason, the two set up their own talent management company.[6] Among the "unsuccessful clients"[3] the William Morris Agency allowed him to take with him at the time was Nat Cohen, the producer of the British Carry On series of films. One of their first clients as agents was the actress Julie Christie, whose screentest for Doctor Zhivago they arranged.[7] Through another of their clients, Winkler and Chartoff brokered the John Schlesinger film Darling to film producer Joseph E. Levine. This deal led them from talent management to film production.[5]

Career as film producer and director[edit]

Forming the production company Winkler-Chartoff Productions, Winkler began producing films with his partner Robert Chartoff in the late 1960s. Their first effort (along with Judd Bernard), was John Boorman's thriller Point Blank (1967), largely ignored in its day but now regarded as a top film of the time. Adding Sydney Pollack to their production team for one project, they garnered critical acclaim for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). Their next film, The Strawberry Statement (1970), won the Jury Prize at Cannes. Chartoff and Winkler achieved their greatest success yet with Rocky (1976), which earned the Academy Award as Best Picture. Subsequently, the producing duo picked up Best Picture Oscar nominations for Raging Bull (1980) and The Right Stuff (1983), their last project together before Chartoff-Winkler Productions dissolved in 1985.[7] Winkler launched his solo career with Revolution (1985).

Winkler produced such noteworthy features as Bertrand Tavernier's Round Midnight (1986) and back-to-back Costa-Gavras films, Betrayed (1988) and Music Box (1989), before receiving another Best Picture Oscar nomination for Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990). He also returned to the franchise to oversee Rocky IV (1985) and Rocky V (1990), continuing the association forged with Sylvester Stallone on their first three Chartoff-Winkler productions.

Approaching the age of 60, Winkler moved into the director's chair, debuting with Guilty by Suspicion (1991), a drama (which he also scripted) about the Hollywood blacklist that starred Robert De Niro. His second feature, the unsuccessful 1992 remake of Night and the City, also starred De Niro. Winkler had better luck at the box office as writer-director of the Sandra Bullock vehicle The Net (1995), which spawned a series of the same name debuting on the USA Network in 1998.

Life as a House (2001) is the tale of a depressed dying man (Kevin Kline) who funnels his energies into rebuilding the dilapidated beach shack he inherited from his abusive father and, in the process, building bridges between himself and his disaffected son (Hayden Christensen). After this film received critical praise, Winkler re-teamed with Kline for the follow-up De-Lovely (2004), casting the actor as the lead in his biographical film about American composer Cole Porter, which centered on his unique relationship with his wife and muse (Ashley Judd).

While his directorial career would last through 2006, Winkler continued to produce his share of films, including The Shipping News (2001), Enough (2002), the 2014 remake of The Gambler—he'd also produced James Toback's 1974 original—and his further return to the Rocky franchise with Rocky Balboa (2006) and the spin-offs-sequels Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018). His work with Scorsese carried on with The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Silence (2016), and The Irishman (2019). The latter film is Winkler's first collaboration with Netflix.[3] In 2009, his Winkler Films production company inked a deal with FremantleMedia.[8]

In 2019, Winkler published his autobiography A Life in Movies: Stories from 50 years in Hollywood.

On July 23, 2019 in an interview with Variety, Sylvester Stallone said that a Rocky sequel and prequel are in development. Winkler said “We’re very high on it" and that negotiations are underway for Stallone to write and star in the feature. “We’re very anxious to make it.” Stallone also said there are "ongoing discussions" about a Rocky prequel television series, which he hopes will land on a streaming service and the series will likely follow a young Rocky Balboa as a professional boxing hopeful. Stallone said Winkler is hesitant on making the series saying that "There was some conflict there, yes. He felt in his mind that “Rocky” was primarily a feature film, and he didn't see it as being translated for cable, so there was a big bone of contention."[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Winkler married his wife Margo Winkler in 1959 while still working at WMA in New York. They moved to Los Angeles in 1966. Margo was originally from California and her parents, Irma and Charlie Melson, were former Vaudeville performers.[3] The couple have three sons, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, and Adam Winkler. Charles and David are both film producers and directors in their own right. Together with their father, they run the production company "Winkler Films". Winkler's youngest son Adam is a professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law and a published author.


He was a producer in all films unless otherwise noted.


As producer
Year Film Credit Notes
1967 Double Trouble
Point Blank Uncredited
1968 Blue
The Split
1969 They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1970 Leo the Last
The Strawberry Statement
1971 Believe in Me
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
1972 The New Centurions
Thumb Tripping
The Mechanic
Up the Sandbox
1974 Busting
The Gambler
1975 Peeper
1976 Rocky
1977 New York, New York
1978 Comes a Horseman Executive producer
Uncle Joe Shannon
1979 Rocky II
1980 Raging Bull
1981 True Confessions
1982 Rocky III
Author! Author!
1983 The Right Stuff
1985 Rocky IV
1986 Round Midnight
1988 Betrayed
1989 Music Box
1990 Goodfellas
Rocky V
1992 Night and the City
1995 The Net
1996 The Juror
1999 At First Sight
2001 Life as a House
The Shipping News
2002 Enough
2004 De-Lovely
2006 The Net 2.0 Direct-to-video
Rocky Balboa Executive producer
Home of the Brave
2009 Streets of Blood Executive producer Direct-to-video
2011 The Mechanic Executive producer
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street Executive producer
2014 The Gambler
2015 Survivor
2016 Silence
2018 Creed II
2019 The Irishman
As writer
Year Film
1991 Guilty by Suspicion
2006 Home of the Brave
As director
Year Film
1991 Guilty by Suspicion
1992 Night and the City
1995 The Net
1999 At First Sight
2001 Life as a House
2004 De-Lovely
2006 Home of the Brave
As an actor
Year Film Role
1998 Welcome to Hollywood Himself
Year Film Role
1998 Welcome to Hollywood Special thanks


Year Title Credit Notes
1985 Scandal Sheet Television film
1998−99 The Net Executive producer
As writer
Year Title
1998−99 The Net


For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Winkler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard. He was also the recipient of the 2017 Producers Guild of America's David O. Selznick Achievement Award for his work in motion pictures.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Award Film Result Ref(s)
1977 Academy Awards Best Picture Rocky Won
1981 Academy Awards Best Picture Raging Bull Nominated
1984 Academy Awards Best Picture The Right Stuff Nominated
1991 BAFTA Awards Best Film Goodfellas Won
1991 Academy Awards Best Picture Goodfellas Nominated
1991 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Guilty by Suspicion Nominated [11]
1999 Hollywood Film Festival Hollywood Film Award Outstanding Achievement in Producing Won
2001 Aspen Filmfest Audience Favorite Feature Life as a House Won


  1. ^ Erens, Patricia (1998). The Jew in American Cinema. Indiana University Press. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-253-20493-6.
  2. ^ J Weekly: "Celebrity Jews" by Nate Bloom. May 28, 2004
  3. ^ a b c d e "WTF with Marc Maron, Episode 1015: Irwin Winkler". May 2, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b King, Susan (July 7, 2010). "Hollywood Star Walk: Irwin Winkler". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Champlin, Charles (January 11, 1986). "Irwin Winkler's 'Rocky' Road to Glory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Chawkins, Steve (June 11, 2015). "Robert Chartoff dies at 81; Producer of 'Rocky,' 'Raging Bull'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (June 10, 2015). "Robert Chartoff, Producer of 'Rocky' and 'Raging Bull,' Dies at 81". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Hopewell, Michael Schneider,John; Schneider, Michael; Hopewell, John (March 30, 2009). "FremantleMedia stepping into drama". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  9. ^ "Sylvester Stallone Feels Robbed of an Ownership Stake in 'Rocky': 'I Was Furious'". Variety. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "Sylvester Stallone Reveals 'Rocky' Sequel and Prequel Are in Development". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  11. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Guilty by Suspicion". Retrieved August 9, 2009.


  • Winkler, Irwin. A Life in Movies: Stories from 50 years in Hollywood. New York, Abrams Press, 2019

External links[edit]