Legendary Israeli film producer and director Menahem Golan passed away Friday at the age of 85. Golan is an Israel Prize laureate for his contribution to Israeli cinema and held a central role in Hollywood in the 80s.
Together with his cousin Yoram Globus, Golan headed Cannon Group, a successful production company that produced films such as Delta Force and was instrumental in launching the careers of Charles Bronson and Chuck Noris.
He is survived by a wife and three children.
Inside Israel, Golan is known for directing such films as "Operation Thunderbolt," a movie about the dramatic operation Israeli forces conducted in Uganda to save a high jacked plane of Israelis. The movie earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1978.
In the film, Israeli singer Yoram Goan portrays the character based on Yoni (Yonathan) Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu, who was killed in the real-world operation. The movies insipred neurmous spinoff, a large portion of which were produced by Golan.
He is also known for his quick and at time cheap production methods, infamously filming his films in both English and Hebrew. "Golan is the only person who can film an hour and a half film in an hour and 15 minutes," a popular satire TV program once joked about Golan.
“Golan is the type of person you only work with once,” said Lou Lenart, a pilot turned film producer who shot "Thunderbolt" with Golan.
In the 10 years they led the Cannon company, the duo produced hundreds of films, mostly action and fantasy movies, and nurtured action stars like Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Dudikoff.
The hits their company distributed included "The Delta Force," "American Ninja," "Missing in Action," "Kickboxer" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover," as well as the failed superhero movies "Superman IV" and "Captain America."
Earlier this year, a film about the two called "The Go-Go Boys," directed by Hilla Medalia, was screened at Cannes. The move tells the inside story of the two top Israeli producers and cousins, who grabbed a nice market share in the Hollywood market with Cannon Films, the company they founded in the 1980s and abandoned in 1989.
"The Go-Go Boys" looks into the complex relationship between the two men who went through many ups and downs while working together and shared a relationship filled with contradictions, which eventually led to a split.
The documentary includes archive footage from their film productions as well as interviews with leading figures from the world of cinema in Israel and in the United States, including actors Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight and Charles Bronson.
Nili Leon and Omer Benjakob contributed to this report.