Universal Pictures vice chairman and COO Rick Finkelstein has died, the studio confirmed on Wednesday. He was 64.
The longtime executive had been battling cancer.
NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer sent a memo to employees, saying:
I have some sad news to share with you today. Last night, after a long and difficult battle with cancer, our own Rick Finkelstein passed away.
Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
He has been a dear friend to many of us and was an important part of the success of this company. He will be missed.
Finkelstein started out as an entertainment lawyer, practicing at Mitchell, Silverberg and Knupp from 1978 to 1986. Finkelstein then joined De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and became president of Nelson Films. He moved from Nelson to PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where he was responsible for integrating the shingle when it was merged into Universal.
Before transitioning to become vice chairman and COO of Universal Pictures, Finkelstein served as Universal Pictures vice chair and exec VP of Universal Studios since 2006. In 2009, he became a strategic advisor to then co-chairs Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley. He served as president of Universal Pictures starting in 1999. Most recently, he oversaw worldwide home entertainment and television distribution for Universal Pictures.
Finkelstein represented Universal on the board of the Motion Pictures Association of America as well as on the board of the American Cinematheque.
The exec survived a serious skiing accident in 2004 in Aspen, which broke his back and collapsed both lungs.
His remarkable recovery and return to skiing after years of rehab and many surgeries was the subject of a short film that played at the Sundance Film Fest in 2012, "The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising."