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Sam Spiegel
Born November 11, 1901(1901-11-11)
Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary
Died December 31, 1985 (aged 84)
St. Martin, Channel Islands, UK
Spouse(s) Lynn Baggett (div.)
Rachel Agranovich (m.1920) Betty Spiegel

Sam Spiegel (11 November 1901 – 31 December 1985) was an independent Academy Award-winning film producer.


Life and career

Spiegel was born in Jarosław, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now in Poland) as Samuel P. Spiegel to a German-Jewish father and Polish mother and educated at the University of Vienna. His brother was Shalom Spiegel, a professor of medieval Hebrew poetry. Spiegel worked briefly in Hollywood in 1927 following a stint serving with Hashomer Hatzair in Palestine. He then went to Berlin to produce German and French adaptations of Universal films until 1933 when he fled Germany. As an independent producer, Spiegel was behind a number of European films. In 1938, he emigrated to Mexico and subsequently the United States. Between 1935 and 1954, Spiegel billed himself as S.P. Eagle. After that he used his real name. "...Spiegel a decidedly flawed protagonist, as well as the wit, sophistication, and Old World charm that make him a titanic figure the likes of which the movie industry will not see again."[1]

He won the Academy Award for Best Picture for Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront and a further two times for his two collaborations with British director David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). In 1963, he was awarded the prestigious Irving Thalberg Memorial Award at that year's Academy Awards for his many contributions to cinema.

Spiegel maintained a connection with the Israeli nation throughout his life, particularly with such personalities as Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon, Jerusalem Foundation president Ruth Cheshin, and his close friend, then Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. Spiegel also contributed to various Zionist causes. He spoke seven languages fluently: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and Polish.[2]

In his last years, he returned to his Jewish and Zionist roots. He steadfastly met each week with a rabbi, and willed a significant amount of his personal fortune to the city of Jerusalem.

His heirs and the administrators of his estate, son Adam Spiegel, daughter Alisa Freedman, niece Judge Raya Dreben, and Adv. David Bottoms, decided to transfer Spiegel's impressive art collection to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. From 1996, they have made an annual contribution, through the Jerusalem Foundation, to the film school in Jerusalem bearing his name since that time — the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Jerusalem. This annual contribution is the largest in the history of Israeli cinema.

In 2005, the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, the Jerusalem Municipality complied with a request from the school's founder-director Renen Schorr to mark the occasion by declaring the lane in the Talpiot industrial section where the school is located "The Sam Spiegel Alley." The street sign's inscription: "Sam Spiegel – Jewish-American Film Producer and Oscar-winner. Pioneer. Lover of Zion."

Filmography - producer

  1. Betrayal (1983)
  2. Last Tycoon, The (1976)
  3. Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)
  4. Happening, The (1967)
  5. Night of the Generals, The (1967)
    1. ...also known as Nuit des généraux, La (1967) (France)
  6. Chase, The (1966)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  8. Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
  9. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
  10. Strange One, The (1957)
    1. ...also known as End as a Man (1957)
  11. On the Waterfront (1954)
  12. Melba (1953)
  13. African Queen, The (1951) (as S. P. Eagle)
  14. Prowler, The (1951) (as S.P. Eagle)
  15. When I Grow Up (1951) (as S.P. Eagle)
  16. We Were Strangers (1949) (as S.P. Eagle)
  17. Stranger, The (1946) (as S.P. Eagle)
  18. Tales of Manhattan (1942) (as S. P. Eagle)
  19. Derrière la façade (1939)
    1. ... also known as 32 Rue de Montmartre (1939) (France: reissue title)
  20. Invader, The (1935) (co-producer)
    1. ...also known as Old Spanish Custom, An (1935)
  21. Mariage à responsabilité limitée (1933)
  22. Requins du pétrole, Les (1933)
  23. Unsichtbare Gegner (1933)
    1. ...also known as Invisible Opponent (1933)


  • Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni: Sam Spiegel: The incredible life and times of Hollywood's most iconoclastic producer, the miracle worker who went from penniless refugee to show biz legend, and made possible The African Queen, On the waterfront, the bridge over the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia. New York etc.: Simon & Schuster 2003.


  1. ^ review of the biography: Sam Spiegel by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni.
  2. ^ Sam Spiegel appearance on What's My Line?, episode 818. Originally aired January 30, 1966 on CBS. Viewed on October 3, 2007.

External links



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