Max Rosenberg

Max Rosenberg

LOS ANGELES--Max Rosenberg, who produced dozens of successful, low-budget movies, from horror tales to rock and roll romps, died here June 14 after a brief illness. He was 89. Among the many titles he shepherded during his six-decade career were the movies featured in episodes 905- THE DEADLY BEES and 704- THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN.

The son of a Bronx furrier, Rosenberg grew up in New York and graduated from City College and St. John Law School. He began in the film business in 1939, working for the New York arm of Warner Brothers as a buyer and distributor of foreign titles and art films. He then teamed up with Joseph E Levine to form Motion Picture Ventures, an art-house distribution company.

He began producing in 1954, joining forces with long-time business partner Milton Subotsky, to create a number of children's TV shows, including the award-winning series "Junior Science."

From there the duo branched out to movies, usually aimed at the baby boom teenagers who were then flooding into movie theaters and drive-ins. His were some of the first films to present rock and roll music in a positive light. "Rock, Rock, Rock" (1956) starred Tuesday Weld (then 13 years old) and featured performances by Chuck Berry, Johnny Burnette, Frankie Lymon and disc jockey Alan Freed. There was also "Jamboree" (1957), "It's Trad, Dad!" (1962) directed by a young Richard Lester and "Just For Fun" (1963), with Alan Freeman and The Tornados.

But Rosenberg and Subotsky were best-known for movies involving horror or the supernatural. Working with England's Hammer Films studio, the duo released "The Curse of Frankenstein" (1957), starring Peter Cushing, which took $500,000 to make and brought in $7 million in revenues. Following that success, they founded Amicus Productions in England and soon became Hammer's chief competitor. The studio was best known for the horror anthology films "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" (1965) and "The House That Dripped Blood" (1970), in which several tales of terror were loosely strung together. They went on to produce a number of horror and science fiction titles, including "They Came From Beyond Space" (1967), "Tales from the Crypt" (1972) and "The Land That Time Forgot" (1975).

Rosenberg later produced some non-horror work, most notably Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party" (1968) starring Robert Shaw and directed by William Friedkin. He slowed down a bit by the 1980s but still made his mark with "Bloody Birthday" (1981) and the remake of "Cat People" (1982).

Even in recent years, Rosenberg remained a dapper Hollywood fixture, known for his Savile Row tweeds, mini-cigars, handmade shirts and silk ties. He is survived by his companion Arlene Becker, two daughters and three grandchildren.