Veteran producer Robert Halmi Sr., whose TV movies and miniseries won more than 100 Emmys, died Wednesday of a brain aneurysm at his home in New York City. He was 90.
Before producing more than 200 TV productions, including miniseries Gulliver’s Travels, The Odyssey and Alice in Wonderland in the 1990s, Halmi was a Hungarian freedom fighter who was captured and sentenced to death twice — first by the Nazis when they occupied Hungary and later by the Hungarian Communists when the Russians took over after World War II.
“He lived a larger-than-life life, filled with you-can-hardly-believe-it chapters,” said his publicist Russ Patrick, who had known him for 27 years. “He was absolutely fearless.”
Halmi graduated from Budapest University in 1946 and, five years later, arrived in the Unites States with a Leica camera and $5 in his pocket. He became a magazine photographer, with his pictures featured in Life and Sports Illustrated, among many others. But television was his calling.
He is best known for his company RHI Entertainment’s production of TV movies and miniseries in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. His productions, ranging from Moby Dick to Noah’s Ark, tended to be big-budget adaptations of classic stories and epics that were distributed across the world.
His productions garnered a combined 480 Emmy nominations, including 136 wins, in addition to numerous Golden Globe Awards, Humanitas Prizes, Peabody Awards and Christopher Awards. In 1998, Halmi won a Peabody Award for his body of work.
Even at the age of 90, Halmi was still hard at work. His company, The Halmi Company, started filming Olympus, a 13-part series for Syfy, three weeks ago for a 2015 premiere.
Halmi is survived by his wife Caroline, four children and 13 grandchildren. Services for family and friends will be held in early August in New York.