SBD/Issue 73/Sports Industrialists

Olympic Documentary Filmmaker Bud Greenspan Passes Away At 84

Greenspan Made Films For
Every Olympics Since L.A.

Eight-time Emmy Award-winning Olympic documentary filmmaker BUD GREENSPAN passed away Saturday at the age of 84 of complications from Parkinson's disease, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Greenspan's filmmaking style was "consistently familiar; it was cinematic comfort food for those who believe in the Olympics as an inspiring, almost spiritual athletic gathering." He "unapologetically glorified athletes for overcoming injuries, failures and obstacles with a straightforward storytelling style intended to strike emotional chords." Greenspan "preferred to let others cover cheating and scandals" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/27). In L.A., Mike Kupper noted Greenspan was the recipient of an Olympic Order, the IOC's "highest award," and in '04 was inducted into the U.S. Olympic HOF as a special contributor (L.A. TIMES, 12/26). The AP's Jim Litke wrote Greenspan's documentaries "often soared as triumphantly as the Olympic athletes he chronicled," and he "remained uncompromising about his focus on the most inspirational stories." His "best-known work was 'The Olympiad,' the culmination of 10 years of research, more than 3 million feet of rare, archival film, hundreds of interviews and visits to more than 30 nations." Former USOC Chief Communications Officer MIKE MORAN said, "Greenspan's lifetime of work was to the Olympic Games and the athletes what JOHN FORD's cinema was to the American West" (AP, 12/26).

OFFICIAL FILM OF THE GAMES: AROUND THE RINGS' Ed Hula wrote Greenspan's "storytelling power as a writer and film director drove the popularity and acclaim for his works, which often were the official film of the Games." Starting with the '84 L.A. Games and "16 Days of Glory," there is a Greenspan film "for every Olympics since then." Moran: "He had no peer in his craft, and he was the artist that thousands of Olympic athletes dreamed of when they thought of how their stories might be told one day" (, 12/26). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand wrote Greenspan "brought so much originality to his documentaries that his storytelling and footage seem fresh years after they premiered" (USA TODAY, 12/27). In Boston, John Powers writes Greenspan was the "ultimate Olympic storyteller." His documentaries "showcased the Olympic spirit at its most inspiring" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/28).

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