Producer Itzik Kol, Dead at Age 75

Kol, one of the most prominent film and television producers in Israel from the 1970s to the 1990s, was involved in making leading films. His funeral will take place at 7 P.M. this evening at the Yarkon Cemetery.

Film and television producer Itzik Kol, 75, died yesterday morning in Kfar Sava's Meir Hospital of complications from pneumonia. Kol, one of the most prominent film and television producers in Israel from the 1970s to the 1990s, was involved in making leading films. His funeral will take place at 7 P.M. this evening at the Yarkon Cemetery.

Kol was born in Petah Tikva in 1932. He joined the film industry in 1960, when director Baruch Dienar invited him to work with him on "Hem Hayu Asara" ("They Were Ten"). He switched to theater later, serving for several years as director general of Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater.

In the late 1960s, Margot Klausner hired Kol to head Herzliya Studios. Klausner dreamed of creating a "Hollywood of the Middle East" in Israel, and Kol was charged with making the dream come true.

Several of the most prominent Israeli films from the 1970s were made under his stewardship of the studio. These included "Hashoter Azulai" ("The Policeman"), directed by Ephraim Kishon and nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category; "Metzitzim" ("Peeping Toms"); "Einayim Gedolot" ("Big Eyes"); "Hatzilu Et Hamatzil" ("Save the Lifeguard"), directed by Uri Zohar; and Avi Nesher's "The Troupe."

"I owe Itzik Kol a lot for this film," Nesher said yesterday. "Without his confidence in it, it would not have been made. I was a young, frightened 24-year-old director, and he was the executive director of the Herzliya Studios, who produced many of Uri Zohar's films. Today I can say that his decision to work with a young director such as myself was very courageous. We had a lot of classic producer-director friction. He, for example, did not want Gidi Gov in the film and I did, but undoubtedly he is the one who made the film possible. His contribution in this respect was huge. I remember him as having a sharp sense of humor; he was a funny man with a great love of film and of culture."

As head of Herzliya Studios, Kol produced successful television shows including "Zeh Hasod Sheli," "Sahek Ota" and "Tesha Ba'ribu'a" (Hollywood Squares).

"There is no part of the industry he didn't touch," producer Shlomo Paz, who first met Kol when they both belonged to the Hashomer Ha'zair youth movement, said yesterday. "He made films and television shows, worked with the greatest artists and even helped found South Africa's commercial television station in the 1970s." The connection between them deepened when they worked together on television productions at Herzliya Studios. "Kol was a great man, literally and figuratively, in girth and in spirit," Paz said. "I saw him just a month ago. He looked great, thriving. He knew how to take things and do them. He had daring; he had incredible reserves of energy, but mostly he was smart and did the right things. He had many enemies, but the many people who loved him truly loved him."

Paz related yesterday that he and Kol were the ones who discovered entertainer Dudu Topaz in the 1970s. "Topaz was working in an advertising agency and someone told us, 'We have a very talented guy here. Come meet him.' That's how we got him. At first put him on 'Hollywood Squares' as one of the contestants who sat in the squares, and then after he proved himself we had him host 'Sahek Ota," and he advanced from there."

In the early 1980s, Kol joined Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus. He was the local business manager of their production company and later became CEO of their Hollywood production company, Cannon. Paz said he made great efforts to bring U.S. productions to Israel. Kol was also responsible for initiating the construction of G.G. Studios in Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem, in the 1980s.

Kol, a cigar lover, was one of the bidders on the first tender for Channel Two, Israel's first commercial television station, in the early 1990s. When his group lost the tender he joined Israel Ringel at Roll Films. Israeli-born producers Avi Lerner and Danny Dimbort, currently visiting Israel as guests of the Jerusalem Film Festival, were also partners in the company, which no longer exists. One of the last television productions Kol worked on was the game show, "Ken o Lo," hosted by Ruby Porat Shoval.

Throughout the years, Kol was involved in the Labor Party's election campaigns. He was married three times: to Naomi Kol, with whom he had two children; to Hadassah Degany, with whom he had one child; and to Sari Kol. In recent years he worked on developing and marketing a natural formula for attention disorders, in the wake of coping with the difficulties experienced by Gabi, his daughter from his second marriage, in this area.