Family & Companions
A veteran film and television producer, Mace Neufeld established himself as a talent manager before overseeing a string of Hollywood blockbusters that would make him one of the most powerful and respected in the business. He first dabbled in producing when working with clients on such series as the musical-variety show "The Captain and Tennille" (ABC, 1976-77) even as he broke into the film industry performing similar duties on the supernatural-thriller "The Omen" (1976). Neufeld threw himself into his new line of work, straddling the worlds of film and television equally with such productions as the Western comedy "The Frisco Kid" (1979) and a miniseries adaptation of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" (ABC, 1981). The modest success of Kevin Costner's political-thriller "No Way Out" (1987) set the stage for Neufeld's first unequivocal hit "The Hunt for Red October" (1990). The producer returned to the well for more adaptations of the best-selling Tom Clancy novels with "Patriot Games" (1992) and "Clear and Present Danger" (1994), each of which dominated at the box office. Although his efforts yielded their fair share of duds - the costly updating of the sci-fi cult-series "Lost in Space" (1999) being one of the more forgettable - another Clancy thriller, "The Sum of All Fears" (2002), and the Clint Eastwood-directed "Invictus" (2009) proved his instincts were as sharp as ever. As one of Hollywood's most respected and reliable producers, Neufeld's reputation was assured.
Born Mace Alvin Neufeld on July 13, 1928 in New York City, NY, he was the son of Margaret Ruth and stockbroker Philip M. Neufeld. From an early age, Neufeld exhibited a keen interest in the arts, and by his teens, Mace was earning a name for himself as a photographer. In 1944, his snapshot of a returning World War II veteran, entitled, "Sammy's Home," became widely syndicated and was later proclaimed "Picture of the Year" by The New York World Telegram-Sun newspaper. Not long after earning his degree from Yale University, Neufeld began his television career with a production assistant job under Raymond E. Nelson at the DuMont Television Network - a rival to major networks CBS, NBC and ABC at the time. Music was also a passion for Neufeld, who wrote material for such noted performers as Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the Ritz Brothers. Exceptionally ambitious, he later founded an independent production company and talent management agency, working with the likes of Don Adams, Don Knotts and Buck Henry.
In 1954, Neufeld married fashion designer Helen Katz, with whom he would go on to have three children, who surely delighted in the fact that their multi-faceted father had penned the theme song for the animated "The Heckle and Jeckle Show" (CBS, 1956-1966). By the 1970s, Neufeld's interest led him into more series television work with early efforts like "The Captain and Tennille" (ABC, 1976-77), a musical-variety hour starring the husband and wife pop duo, who also happened to be Neufeld's clients. He made the jump to feature film producing that same year with the satanic horror hit "The Omen" (1976), starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as a horror-stricken couple who discover they are the parents of the Antichrist, son Damien. Having enjoyed his work as a producer on the Western comedy "The Frisco Kid" (1979), starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford, there was no looking back for Neufeld, who threw himself into his new role with a variety of film and television offerings in nearly every genre. On the small screen, he oversaw the production of efforts like the inspirational fantasy "Angel on My Shoulder" (ABC 1980), as well as a respectable interpretation of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" (ABC, 1981). He took a stab at a weekly series drama with the short-lived "The American Dream" (ABC, 1981), but with increased frequency returned to feature films for projects like the low-budget horror movie "The Funhouse" (1981) and the creature-comedy "Transylvania 6-5000" (1985).
Neufeld took his career and his Hollywood stature to the next level when he executive-produced the big-budget feature "No Way Out" (1987), a taut political-thriller starring a red-hot Kevin Costner opposite Gene Hackman as a corrupt secretary of defense. A modest success, it paved the way for Neufeld's first true blockbuster, "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), a nautical action-adventure starring Sean Connery as a defecting Russian submarine commander and Alec Baldwin as Dr. Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst trying to prevent an international incident. Flush with success, Neufeld formed a partnership with Robert Rehme and began producing projects exclusively for Paramount Pictures, the first of which was director John Milius' Vietnam War drama "Flight of the Intruder" (1991), which unlike "Red October" met with scathing reviews and audience indifference. Still keeping his feet in both worlds, Neufeld continued to oversee such television projects as the true crime Hollywood biopic "White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd" (NBC, 1991) and the short-lived adventure series "Lightning Force" (syndicated, 1991-92).
Despite the dismal failure of "Intruder," Neufeld/Rehme redeemed themselves with "Patriot Games" (1992), the hit sequel to "Red October," which installed Harrison Ford in the role of Jack Ryan as he attempted to protect his family from a vengeful terrorist (Sean Bean). Moving forward with a slate of high-profile films, Neufeld experienced the highs and lows common in Hollywood with disappointments like Eddie Murphy's ill-advised return to "Beverly Hills Cop III" (1993) counterbalanced by such reliable hits as "Clear and Present Danger" (1994), Ford's second outing as Jack Ryan. An unremarkable streak that included the Val Kilmer adventure "The Saint" (1997), the big screen adaptation of the sci-fi series "Lost in Space" (1998), the John Travolta military thriller "The General's Daughter" (1999), and the Kim Basinger supernatural thriller "Bless the Child" (2000) eventually gave way to the critical and commercial success of "The Sum of All Fears" (2002), this time with Ben Affleck taking on the role of the danger-attracting Jack Ryan.
Along with media mogul Ted Turner, Neufeld took on the massive undertaking that was the Civil War epic "Gods and Generals" (2003) with Stephen Lang as Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee. The producer made another effort to launch a franchise based on a series of best-selling novels with the adaptation of Clive Cussler's adventure novel "Sahara" (2005), starring Matthew McConaughey as explorer extraordinaire Dirk Pitt. Unfortunately, "Sahara" failed to thrill theatergoers and left the planned for franchise stranded in the desert. More notable was director Clint Eastwood's tale of apartheid and the uniting power of sport, "Invictus" (2009), a based-on-real-life drama starring Morgan Freeman as South African President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the captain of the country's rugby team.
By Bryce Coleman
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
Worked as a professional photographer; won awards for his work by the time he was 16
His photograph, "Sammy's Home", depicting a returning veteran, was syndicated by International News Photo; photo later voted by THE NEW YORK WORLD TELEGRAM-SUN to be "Picture of the Year"
Wrote theme for the animated TV series, "The Heckle and Jeckle Show" (date approximate)
Produced the NBC game show, "Laugh Line"
First feature film, "The Omen"; credited as executive producer
Produced the NBC science-fiction comedy series, "Quark"
First feature credit as producer, "The Frisco Kid"
Set up Neufeld-Davis Productions with Marvin Davis
Produced the short-lived ABC drama series, "The American Dream"
Produced the Broadway revue, "The Flying Karamazov Brothers"
Established Neufeld/Rehme Productions with Robert G. Rehme