By Michelle Magnan - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 2 Comments
He went to Hollywood to get Francis Ford Coppola’s autograph, and revitalized a studio instead
He was a real estate magnate, arts supporter and unlikely Tinseltown power player. Jack Singer, 95, died Saturday, and was laid to rest today in Calgary. From our archives, here’s a look at how the one-time boxing champ became “an angel in the City of Angels.” (Story first published November 29, 2011.)
Ask Jack Singer how he became a Hollywood player and he’ll deliver the same line he’s been using for nearly 30 years: “I went there to get an autograph and I ended up owning a studio.” The autograph—not to mention the studio—belonged to Francis Ford Coppola, who, in 1981, was filming a movie called One from the Heart. At the time, Coppola was a big-time director celebrated for The Godfather films, had recently bought a studio and, luckily for Singer, needed money to finish his film. Singer was a big-time real estate developer from Calgary, a one-time Canadian boxing lightweight champion and, luckily for Coppola, a man who liked to take risks. They met when Singer, who’d been golfing in Palm Springs, took up a friend on an offer to tour Coppola’s studio. Perhaps, the friend said, they’d snag his signature. In the end, Singer snagged much more. A meeting with Coppola that day turned into a $3-million investment in his film, an invite to stay in a bungalow on set and, ultimately, the beginning of Singer’s long relationship with Tinseltown. “I believe in fate,” he says. “Everything good or bad that happened was fate.”
Singer was recently recognized for all the good that came from his fateful encounter with Coppola. In October, a Los Angeles city council member presented a special resolution honouring Singer for his “vital role in the revitalization of the District of Hollywood” and for his work in establishing the facility known as Hollywood Center Studio, which he bought in 1984, as a “world-class resource for feature film and commercial production.” The resolution ends declaring him “an angel in the City of Angels.” Remarkable, considering Singer is a frail 93-year-old living in a modest bungalow in Calgary.