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Obituaries

Samuel Z. Arkoff, 83; Produced Many Teen Movies

September 18, 2001|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Along the way, he provided early opportunities for talented young directors including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. He also provided early vehicles for major actors including Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Cher, Richard Pryor and Nick Nolte.

His strict low-budget edict caused a few problems that might appall today's well-financed special effects creators.

Arkoff recalled one example for a Times interviewer earlier this year. He said he gave a dubious Corman $29,000 to make the 1955 horror movie "The Beast With a Million Eyes"--only to have Corman omit the beast. When the finished film was turned in, posters had already been distributed publicizing a multi-eyed title character.

"I said, 'Where is the beast?' " Arkoff recalled. "Roger said, 'I didn't have any money. You put in the monster.'

"So what we finally did," the resourceful Arkoff said, "is we got a teakettle and we put about 50 holes in it and got steam going through it. That became our beast with a million eyes."

In recent years, he was working with his son, Louis, to remake some of his earliest films such as "Teenage Caveman" for HBO.

Arkoff's career largely wound down in the early 1980s after his meteoric independent studio gradually crumbled. His partner, Nicholson, left the company in 1969 and died in 1972.

Arkoff merged AIP with Filmways International in 1979, and sold his interests to Filmways in 1982. The combined company was sold to Orion Pictures, which went under a few years later.

Arkoff founded a new production company, Arkoff International Pictures, in 1981 but, in an evolving Hollywood, never matched the success he had had with AIP.

In 1992, he published his memoirs, "Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants," written with Richard Trubo.

A former trustee of Loyola Marymount University, Arkoff sponsored the annual Arkoff Awards for best original screenplays and telefilms by Loyola Marymount students. He had also served as vice president of Variety Clubs.

Arkoff's wife of 55 years, Hilda, died July 26.

He is survived by his children who are also involved in motion picture production: son, Louis; and daughter, Donna Arkoff Roth, wife of Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services are scheduled for noon Thursday at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.

The family has asked that, instead of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Samuel Z. Arkoff Scholarship Fund at Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television, in care of the dean, One Loyola Marymount University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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