FRITZ THE CAT producer Steve Krantz passed away Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, in Los Angeles from complications of pneumonia, reports VARIETY. He was 83.
Krantz began as a writer-producer for Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle and Kate Smith, eventually becoming the exec producer for Steve Allen's THE TONIGHT SHOW.
Born in New York, he earned his degree at Columbia College, followed by a stint in the Army.
Following the TONIGHT SHOW, Krantz became head of creative development for Columbia Pictures Television. While he was there, the studio produced such sitcoms as DENNIS THE MENACE and BEWITCHED.
In 1960, he left Columbia and formed his own company acquiring the rights to THE MARVEL SUPERHEROES, which ran for more than 200 episodes. Building upon that success, he formed his own animation studio, with locations in Los Angeles, Mexico and New York.
Having met Ralph Bakshi while they worked on the SPIDER-MAN TV series, Krantz agreed to produce FRITZ, which was directed by Bakshi, who co-wrote the script with Robert Crumb. The X-rated feature was the first indie toon to make more than $100 million.
Krantz also produced Bakshi's HEAVY TRAFFIC and THE NINE LIVES OF FRITZ THE CAT.
After retiring from television, Krantz started a new career as a mental health counselor. He was board member of the 1736 Family Crisis Center, the California Council for Mental Health Planning and Planned Parenthood. Additionally, he served as president of the Independent Producers Assn.
He is survived by his wife, author Judith Krantz (SCRUPLES, PRINCESS DAISY); two sons, Nicholas and 24 producer Tony; two grandchildren; and a sister.
Donations should be made to the United Jewish Fund.