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Sam Jaffe (producer)

Sam Jaffe
BornMay 21, 1901
DiedJanuary 10, 2000(2000-01-10) (aged 98)
OccupationMovie producer
SpouseMildred Gersh
FamilyMatt Tolmach (grandson)
Adeline Schulberg (sister)
Budd Schulberg (nephew)
Phil Gersh (brother-in-law)
John Kohn (son-in-law)

Sam Jaffe (May 21, 1901 – January 10, 2000)[1] was, at different points in his career in the motion picture industry, an agent, a producer and a studio executive.


Jaffe was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, to Russian-Jewish immigrants,[2] the son of Hannah and Max Jaffe. He had three older siblings: brothers, Joseph and David, and sister Adeline. He was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.[3]

After dropping out of DeWitt Clinton High School, he took a job as an office boy for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation where his brother-in-law, B.P. Schulberg, was an executive.[1] He eventually worked his way up through the ranks to become the executive in charge of production[2] including films directed by Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg and Rouben Mamoulian.[1] In 1932, he was released from Paramount over internal politics[4] and then worked briefly for Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures[1] before joining the Schulberg-Feldman agency co-founded by his older sister Adeline Schulberg with Charles K. Feldman.[5] In 1933, his sister left the firm to form the Ad Schulberg agency after her divorce from B.P. Schulberg; the firm represented the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Fredric March, and Herbert Marshall before she sold it and moved to London.[3] In 1935, Jaffe opened his own talent agency named the Jaffe Agency.[6][1] While running the agency, he was able to convince 20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck to let him produce The Fighting Sullivans in 1944.[1] He successfully represented several stars and directors of the era, including Humphrey Bogart, Fritz Lang, Raoul Walsh, Stanley Kubrick,[1] Lauren Bacall, David Niven, Zero Mostel, Richard Burton, Mary Astor, Barbara Stanwyck, Lee J. Cobb, and Jennifer Jones.[2] In the late 1940s, his business was negatively affected by the investigations of many of his clients by the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations into Hollywood.[1] In 1949, he sold the Jaffe Agency to his brother-in-law, Phil Gersh.[7]

In 1959, he retired and moved to London[2] where he produced several films including Born Free in 1966 and Theater of Blood in 1973.[1] In 1985, he returned to Los Angeles[2] where he became a collector of modern art.

Personal life

Jaffe was married to Mildred Gersh, sister of Hollywood agent, Phil Gersh, who would later purchase the Jaffe Agency in 1949 which he renamed The Gersh Agency in the 1960s.[7] He had three daughters: Naomi Jaffe Carroll, Barbara Jaffe Kohn, and Judith Jaffe Tolmach Silber.[1] His daughter Barbara was married to producer John Kohn.[8] His grandson is Matt Tolmach, co-president of production at Sony Pictures Entertainment.[9] Another grandson is director Peter Kohn (director) (formerly married to English actress Amanda Pays).[8]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sam Jaffe, 98, Hollywood Agent; Represented the Icons of His Day". The New York Times. January 19, 2000. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sun Sentinel: "Sam Jaffe, Movie Talent Agent, 98" January 15, 2000
  3. ^ a b Jewish Women's Archives: "Adeline Schulberg 1895 – 1977" retrieved September 24, 2015
  4. ^ Baxter, John Von Sternberg P 150 | ISBN 978-0813126012 |University Press of Kentucky | September 2010
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (December 2007). Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. pp. chapter 23. ISBN 9780802196408.
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Sam Jaffe; Pioneer Movie Producer, Manager, Agent" by Myrna Olver January 14, 2000
  7. ^ a b New York Times: "Phil Gersh, a Leading Agent In Hollywood, Is Dead at 92" By BERNARD WEINRAUB May 12, 2004
  8. ^ a b Variety: "John Kohn - Oscar-nominated writer-producer and production executive" May 8, 2002
  9. ^ Deadline Hollywood: "Matt Tolmach Discusses Exit As Sony Pics Prez And Segue To Producing 'Spider-Man'" by Mike Fleming Jr October 29, 2010
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Sam Jaffe (producer)
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