Henry G Saperstein
The owner of a chain of movie theaters in his native Chicago, Henry G Saperstein moved to Hollywood and eventually became president of Television Personalities in the mid-1950s. A pioneer in the field, he handled merchandising for popular television shows including "Lassie", "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp", "The Roy Rogers Show" and "The Lone Ranger". Saperstein also worked with Colonel Tom Parker as a licensing agent for Elvis Presley. In 1960, he acquired UPA Pictures, a company that previously specialized in theatrical shorts and commercials and was failing financially. Shifting the focus to producing television programs, he introduced such successful syndicated cartoons as "Mr. Magoo", "Gerald McBoing Boing" and "Dick Tracy". After the run of "The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo" (NBC, 1964), the animated character frequently appeared as an advertising spokesman. When the American Federation of the Blind protested Disney's 1997 live-action adaptation of "Mr. Magoo" on the grounds that it was demeaning to the blind, Saperstein countered by listing Magoo's heroic qualities, and pointing out that despite the character's nearsightedness, he always triumphs.
Saperstein's feature production credits were a bit eclectic. As a producer of the Warner Bros. children's film "Gay Purr-ee" (1962), he continued his success in animation. Saperstein was also the executive producer of two star-studded concert films, 1964's "The T.A.M.I. Show", featuring performances by The Rolling Stones and Marvin Gaye, and "The Big T.N.T. Show" (1966), with Tina Turner and The Byrds, among others. He also produced the Timothy Leary documentary "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out" and the John Boorman war movie "Hell in the Pacific" (1968), starring Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune as sworn World War II enemies forced to share a desert island. Filmed in the South Pacific Palau Islands, Saperstein was able to use the powers of diplomacy that had made him a successful producer and merchandiser to deal with the clash between native customs and film production demands. Saperstein's longtime association with Japan's Toho Films resulted in his twenty-five year contract handling US licensing for the Godzilla character, including distribution for many of Toho's monster titles. Saperstein was a producer on such efforts as "Godzilla vs. Monster Zero" (1965) and "War of the Gargantuas" (1970). Through his affiliation with Toho Films, he served executive producer of Woody Allen's first film "What's Up Tiger Lily?" (1966), a Japanese spy thriller dubbed in English and given a new plot.