Elliott Kastner dies at 80; independent producer of 'The Missouri Breaks,' 'Where Eagles Dare'

Elliott Kastner

, the veteran independent producer of films such as "The


Breaks," "Equus" and "Where Eagles Dare," has died. He was 80.

Kastner died of cancer Wednesday in a hospital in London, said his stepson Cassian Elwes.

A former MCA talent agent, Kastner became vice president of production at Universal Pictures in 1962 and left two years later to become an independent producer.

His first film was "Bus Riley's Back in Town," a 1965




and Michael Parks.

With "Kaleidoscope," a 1966 film starring

Warren Beatty

and Susannah York, Kastner began financing his films privately before taking the finished film to studios.

Kastner went on to produce or executive produce more than 70 films, including "Harper" (starring

Paul Newman

), "Where Eagles Dare" (starring

Richard Burton


Clint Eastwood

), "Equus" (starring Burton), "The Missouri Breaks" (starring

Marlon Brando


Jack Nicholson

) and "Heat," starring

Burt Reynolds


"He was very much a self-starter," said Jay Kanter, who joined Kastner and

Alan Ladd Jr.

in the late '60s in a company in London that produced films such as "Villain" with Richard Burton and "X,Y & Zee," with

Elizabeth Taylor


Michael Caine


"If he believed in some material, he'd never hesitate to put his own money into buying material and hiring writers and developing a screenplay," said Kanter. "He was very much an individual. He was passionate about what he did, and he was a terrific salesman as well."

In the 1970s, Kastner produced film versions of the Raymond Chandler novels "Farewell, My Lovely" and "The Big Sleep" (both starring

Robert Mitchum

as Philip Marlowe) and "The Long Goodbye" (starring

Elliott Gould

as Marlowe).

Kastner's most recent films were "Sweet November" (2001) and "Opa!" (2005).

"He was an icon in this business," said actor Jack O'Halloran, who played Moose Malloy in the 1975 film version of "Farewell, My Lovely," his first movie. "I loved him like a parent. He was a tremendous individual; they don't make them like him anymore."

Born in

New York City

on Jan. 7, 1930, Kastner attended the

University of Miami

and served in the Army in the '50s.

He began his career as a teenager working in the mail room at the

William Morris

Agency in

New York

, where he advanced to become a literary agent for feature films and moved to

Los Angeles

. He joined MCA in 1959.

In addition to his stepson Cassian, Kastner is survived by his wife, Tessa Kennedy; his children, Dylan and Melica Corcoran; his other stepsons, Damian Elwes and

Cary Elwes

; and seven grandchildren.

A private family service will be held in London.