Sam Katzman

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Sam Katzman
Sam Katzman.jpg
Born (1901-07-07)July 7, 1901
New York City
Died August 4, 1973(1973-08-04) (aged 72)
Occupation Film producer and director
Years active 1933–1973

Sam Katzman (July 7, 1901 – August 4, 1973) was an American film producer and director. Katzman produced low-budget genre films, including serials, which had proportionally high returns for the studios and his financial backers.[1]


Born to a Jewish family,[2] Katzman went to work as a stage laborer at the age of 13 in the fledgling East Coast film industry and moved from prop boy to assistant director at Fox Films.[3] He would learn all aspects of filmmaking and was a Hollywood producer for more than 40 years.[1]

After working as a producer of Bob Steele westerns at A. W. Hackel's Supreme Pictures, Katzman started his own studios, Victory Pictures and Puritan Pictures, in 1935. From 1935–40 Victory produced two serials and 30 features, including Western film series starring Tom Tyler and Tim McCoy.[4] Puritan ceased production in 1937.

Monogram Pictures

In 1940 Katzman moved to Monogram Pictures and produced, under the names Banner Productions, Clover Productions and Four Leaf Productions, the East Side Kids features of the 1940s and several films starring Bela Lugosi.

Columbia Pictures

In 1945 he moved to Columbia Pictures, where he made Superman serial of 1948, the Jungle Jim series of the late 1940s to mid-1950s—acquiring the nickname "Jungle Sam"—a variety of second features, including many filmed in 3D, and a string of rock-'n'-roll musicals in the 1950s. His best known films are probably Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Werewolf (1956).

In 1947 he signed a $4-million contract to make six films and four features through his Esskay Pictures.[5] He specialised in making musicals shot over nine days with a budget around $140,000 per film. For Prince of Thieves, however, he secured a budget of $400,000.[6]

In 1948 Katzman signed a seven-year contract to make four films a year through his Kay Pictures corporation, four serials a year via his Eskay Productions, as well as the Jungle Jim series.[7]

In 1953 he was to make at least 15 films a year.[8]

In 1955 it was announced that Clover Productions would make 15 films for Columbia.[9][10]


At MGM in the 1960s, Katzman produced several Elvis Presley films, as well as the Herman's Hermits film Hold On! and singer Roy Orbison's only film, The Fastest Guitar Alive.[11]

In 1967 he signed a new contract with MGM to make at least two films a year.[12]

Personal life

He was the uncle of television producer Leonard Katzman, and, in turn, a relative of Ethan Klein of the Israeli-American YouTube comedy channel h3h3Productions.

He was married to Hortense Katzman. They married on the set of the film The Diplomats in 1928.[13]

She sued for divorce in 1955 but the two reconciled.[14]

Sam Katzman died on August 4, 1973, in Hollywood. He is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.


NME – February 1962[15]

Selected filmography

As producer unless otherwise mentioned.

Unmade films


  • Wheeler Winston Dixon. Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood. Southern Illinois University Press, 2005.


  1. ^ a b "Sam Katzman: He Makes The Serials". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 20 September 1953. p. 15. Retrieved 30 March 2014 – via National Library of Australia. 
  2. ^ Jewish Virtual Library: "Katzman, Sam" 2008
  3. ^ p.48 Dixon, Wheeler W Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2005)
  4. ^ p. 438 Pitts, Michael R. Poverty Row Studios, 1929–1940: An Illustrated History of 53 Independent Film Companies, with a Filmography for Each McFarland & Company, 1 Jan 1997
  5. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Thomas F Brady (11 May 1947). "Hollywood Survey: Sharp Drop in Production Noted -- Still Another Dumas Exploit -- Other Items". New York Times. p. X5. 
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin (26 Oct 1948). "Italian-Made Feature Stars Patricia Medina; Prison Musical Readied". Los Angeles Times. p. A6. 
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (11 July 1952). "Drama: Garson in 'Interrupted Melody;' Bacon-Bergman and Bjork Deals on Fire". Los Angeles Times. p. B9. 
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (28 July 1954). "'Can Can' Buy Inspires Cast Conjectures; 'Atom Brain Creature' On Way". Los Angeles Times. p. 15. 
  10. ^ Thomas M Pryor Special to The New York Times.. (17 Dec 1954). "Sinatra to Star in Musical Film: He Will Appear in Lasky's Salute to Young America, 'The Big Brass Band'". New York Times. p. 36. 
  11. ^ "Filmland Events: Sam Katzman Begins Busy Year at MGM". Los Angeles Times. 26 Dec 1964. p. 19. 
  12. ^ "CBS Film Unit Signs Producer". Los Angeles Times. 18 Sep 1967. p. d27. 
  13. ^ Kingsley, Grace (30 Nov 1928). "Lasky Signs Well Known Actor: Comedienne and Assistant Director Wed at Studio; Sally O'Neill Will Star in New Circus Story; Youthful Player Signs With M.-G.-M". Los Angeles Times. p. 14. 
  14. ^ "Film Producer Sam Katzman Sued by Wife". Los Angeles Times. 7 Dec 1955. p. 38. 
  15. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 103. CN 5585. 
  16. ^ Thomas F Brady Special to The New York Times.. (2 May 1951). "Fox Movie Studio Suspends Grable: Actress' Refusal to Appear in 'Girl Next Door' Leads to Action--Film Starts July 1". New York Times. p. 49. 
  17. ^ "Philip Barry Jr. Lists Film". New York Times. 7 Jan 1958. p. 30. 
  18. ^ "Thalberg Award to Jack Warner: Studio President Cited for High Quality of Movies -Ladd's Co-Stars Named Special to The New York Times.". New York Times. 26 Mar 1959. p. 27. 
  19. ^ Martin, Betty (15 Apr 1967). "Role for Catherine Spaak". Los Angeles Times. p. 19. 

External links

  • Sam Katzman on IMDb
  • Sam Katzman at Find a Grave
  • Meet Jungle Sam Life magazine
  • Jungle Sam in Time,9171,817485-1,00.html
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