Benjamin Melniker, prolific Batman producer, dies at 104
Benjamin Melniker, a prolific producer who held the distinction of earning a credit on every Batman feature film since 1989, has died. He was 104.
His producing partner Michael Uslan announced the news on his Facebook page Tuesday.
Melniker earned his first Batman credit on Tim Burton’s 1989 film, which starred Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, and continued to do so all the way through last year’s Justice League. Melniker bought the rights to the DC Comics superhero with Uslan in 1979, and their most recent Batman credits were the 2018 animated films Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Batman: Ninja.
Melniker also worked at MGM for years, beginning in 1939 and ascending to executive vice president, as well as chairman of the studio’s film selection committee. Known as the “MGM Lion,” he put together deals for Ben-Hur, Dr. Zhivago, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gigi, and more.
Following his time at MGM, Melniker moved into producing, with credits including Shoot and Mitchell.
With the purchase of the rights to Batman, Melniker defined himself as a premier producer of comic-book-related properties: Other such credits included 1982’s Swamp Thing, 2005’s Constantine, and 2008’s The Spirit. On the small screen, he executive-produced the comic adaptation Fish Police and the beloved children’s series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
In Uslan’s Facebook post, he wrote, “Ben was a humble man, never wishing attention. He turned down endless requests to write his book or do interviews about The Golden Age of Hollywood, especially in his latter years as he became the last mogul standing from that era. He owns the Hollywood record books as far as I can tell. He actively worked in the industry over nine decades, and this year will still receive on-screen credit past his 105th birthday. Not only was he active in the industry for 79 years, he was sharp right up until the last day.”
Melniker is survived by a son, five grandchildren, and an increasing number of great-grandchildren. His wife of 70 years, Shirley, and his other son, Charles, preceded him in death.