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Gene Gutowski (1925 - 2016)

AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski)

Gene Gutowski (1925 - 2016)

Gene Gutowski, who produced films of the director Roman Polanski during the 1960s and later teamed with Polanski to produce the Academy Award-winning Holocaust masterpiece, "The Pianist," died May 10 of pneumonia in Warsaw, Poland, according to multiple news sources, including The Associated Press. He was 90.

Gutowski, a Holocaust survivor, died of pneumonia at a hospital there. The death was announced by Gutowski's son, Adam Bardach.

Gutowski produced some of the 20th century's finest films including "Repulsion" (1965), "Cul-de-Sac" (1966), and "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (1967).

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Gutowski was born Witold Bardach May 7, 1925, in Lwow, Poland, which is now Ukraine. His family was killed by the Nazis, but he eventually escaped to other parts of Poland and Germany. After World War II, he immigrated to the United States with his first wife, Zillah Rhoades. There would be four other wives as well as many lovers, as Gutowski recounted in his 2004 memoir, "From Holocaust to Hollywood." The book was published years later in the U.S. under a different name. 

He started out working as a fashion illustrator before producing films and television programs in the U.S. After moving to London, England, in the early '60s, he met Polanski, also a Holocaust survivor. Their fruitful filmmaking partnership began in 1963 and led to 2002's "The Pianist," which won Oscars for best actor, Adrien Brody; best adapted screenplay, Ronald Harwood; and best director, Polanski. The film also was nominated for best picture.

In his memoir, Gutowski explained how he survived the Holocaust.

"When on occasion I was asked point-blank by either Polish or Jewish former (concentration camp) inmates if I was Jewish, I would deny it, thus creating a duality of existence which I have maintained for most of my life," he wrote. "It's not something I'm particularly proud of. Through denying it I have obviously tried to block off the past, the deep pain of losing my entire family and the subconscious guilt of being the sole survivor."

He is survived by his wife, Joanna; three sons; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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