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Edythe Landau

July 15, 1927 - December 24, 2022

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Film producer Edythe “Edie” Landau passed away peacefully in her home on December 24, 2022 at the age of 95. Born on July 15, 1927 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Rose and Harry Rudolph, she received her B.A. from Wilkes College before moving to New York City. It was there that she joined (and later married) Ely Landau at his company National Telefilm Associates, which owned television station WNTA (Channel 13), considered the “fourth TV network” in the early days of television.

A groundbreaker throughout her life, Edie became Executive Vice President of the company, overseeing the station’s original programming including the anthology drama series The Play of the Week, The Mike Wallace Show, The David Susskind Show, and Open End.

In 1958, she took on another role—equal rights advocate—after being denied entry to a United Airlines “executive flight” from Chicago to New York because she was a woman. Landau (then known as Edythe Rein) filed a formal complaint with the Civil Aeronautics Board. The New York Times covered the story reporting that “a businesswoman is challenging the sanctity of an all-male passenger plane.” Thanks to Landau’s advocacy, the restriction was soon lifted.

In the 1960s, Edie and Ely broadened their focus to include both television and motion pictures, producing films that they hoped would entertain and enlighten in equal measure. In 1962, they produced Long Day’s Journey Into Night, an adaptation of the Eugene O’Neill play. Directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards and Dean Stockwell, the film won Best Actor awards for all its leading actors at the Cannes Film Festival and earned Hepburn an Academy Award nomination. This was followed by The Pawnbroker (1964) for which Rod Steiger received an Academy Award nomination, and the landmark documentary King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis (1970), about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The film played in theaters across the country as a one-night benefit for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Special Fund for the war against poverty, illiteracy and social injustice. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and in 1999, it was added to the National Film Registry.

In 1973, the Landaus launched The American Film Theatre, bringing two seasons of outstanding stage plays to the big screen as part of a subscription series. The 14-film series included Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance starring Hepburn, O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh with Lee Marvin, Pinter’s The Homecoming with Vivien Merchant and Ian Holm, and Robert Shaw’s The Man in the Glass Booth for which Maximilian Schell received an Academy Award nomination. From the late 1970s through the 1980s, the Landaus produced such films as Hopscotch with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen on which they reunited with Steiger and Schell, and Robert Ludlum’s The Holcroft Covenant with Michael Caine

Edie continued pioneering the way for female producers when she turned to cable television. There she produced a number of award-winning productions for HBO, including The Deadly Game with George Segal and Trevor Howard, Separate Tables with Julie Christie and Alan Bates, Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson with Sir Laurence Olivier and Jackie Gleason, and The Christmas Wife with Robards and Julie Harris.

A lifelong love of learning led Edie to the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. In 1982, at the age of 55, she became a member of the State Bar of California. In 1989, she began operating Nannies Unlimited, an exclusive Beverly Hills placement agency serving clientele throughout Los Angeles.

After almost four decades of producing for film and TV, Edie turned to writing poetry and went on to publish five original volumes: Smiles for Seniors: And Anyone Else Who Can Poke Fun at Themselves; Life in Two Lines: Poems to Make Seniors Smile; Life in the Coronavirus Era: Poems to Help Seniors Smile; Edie’s Book of Wisdom; and Edie’s Anatomy Lesson. One poem, written at age 93, reflects Edie’s unwavering belief in speaking out and speaking up: “I feel confident that you’ll never take part in violence / But I do worry that at some point you might resort to silence.”

Edie is survived by her children Jon, Tina, and Kathy, her stepson Les, and their families. She was a loving and beloved mother and grandmother.