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Menahem Golan

(1929 – 2014)

Menahem Golan was an Israeli producer-director. Golan was born to Polish immigrants Noah Globus and Deborah (née Godman) on May 31, 1929, in Tiberias, Israel, Golan served as an air force pilot in the 1948 War of Independence and, at 19, changed his surname in honor of the Golan Heights. Following his military service, he went to London to study at the Old Vic Theatre School. He also was an apprentice at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. After completing his studies in theater direction, he staged plays in Israel. 

In the early 1960s, he went to the United States to study film in New York. While serving as an assistant on the Roger Corman film The Young Racers (1963) he became a protégé of the low-budget director. Golan returned to Israel again to collaborate with his cousin, Yoram Globus, and the two wrote and directed the film El Dorado (1963). The cousins went on to form Noah Films to produce features for the Israeli market.

In 1964, their production of Ephraim Kishon's Sallah Shabati, starring Chaim Topol, received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best foreign film. In 1978, Golan immigrated to the United States and, a year later, the cousins bought controlling interest in the failing production company, Cannon Group, Inc. Golan and Globus produced a few high-quality independent films, like Barfly and The Hanoi Hilton in 1987, but the majority of its success was built on such action pictures as Breakin’' (1984), Missing in Action (1984), Cobra (1986), The Delta Force (1986), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

In the 1980s Golan and Globus were called The Go-Go Boys and were famous for selling movies at the Cannes Film market solely on the basis of a poster. Cannon was eventually sold to Pathe Communications in 1989. While the cousins stayed on, a falling-out led Golan to start the 21st Century Film Corporation, which released Captain America (1991). In 1999, Golan established New Cannon, Inc. which produced several films, most notably Crime and Punishment (2002).

At the time of his death on August 8, 2014, Golan had produced more tha 200 films, directed 44, and won 8 Kinor David awards for outstanding achievement in entertainment, theatre, film, music, and broadcasting as well as the Israel Prize in Cinema. 

Golan was survived by his wife Rachel and three daughters.


Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
Menahem Golan, Wikipedia.

Photo: מנחם זילברמן via Wikimedia Commons.