Halmi, Robert

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HALMI, ROBERT (1924– ), U.S. executive producer. The legendary and prolific television producer Robert Halmi was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of a playwright and a photographer. In 1944, he joined the Hungarian Resistance to hold off the Nazis in Poland. He was captured and sentenced to death but released when the Russians liberated Poland in 1945. In 1952 he emigrated to the U.S. and became a writer-photographer for Life magazine, specializing in exotic and dangerous places. His exploits included being stranded for three days on an Alaskan glacier, spending three months with a tribe of African pygmies, and flying hot-air balloons professionally. Halmi's film career began in 1962 when he started producing documentaries on outdoor subjects. By the mid-1970s Halmi had crossed over to producing feature films but he soon shifted his attention to television. He quickly established himself as the king of the mini-series, producing lavish, star-studded productions of classics. Halmi's credits include Svengali (1983), Gulliver's Travels (1996 Emmy Award), 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1997), The Odyssey (1997), Robinson Crusoe (1997), Moby Dick (1998), Merlin (1998) and perhaps his most acclaimed achievement, Lonesome Dove (1989), which received seven Emmy Awards. In 1994 Hallmark Entertainment purchased Halmi's production company, rhi Entertainment, and promoted Halmi to chairman of the board. He went on to work with his son, Robert Halmi, Jr., who became president and ceo of Hallmark. Halmi, Sr. continued to produce two or more projects a season, such as Animal Farm (1999), The Lion in Winter (2003), and The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004).

[Max Joseph (2nd ed.)]