Rosenfelt, Frank: Former MGM's Head, Dies at 85

August 3, 2007–Frank Rosenfelt, who headed the MGM studio for Kirk Kerkorian during the 1970s and early 1980s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 85.

Rosenfelt joined MGM in 1955 as a lawyer, becoming general counsel in 1969. As a longtime MGM executive, Rosenfelt had a hand in numerous popular films, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and “The Sunshine Boys” (1975). He was credited with securing the movie rights for “Doctor Zhivago” (1965).

He also made “Network,” a daring, prophetic look at the TV business that featured Peter Finch as anchorman Howard Beale. At the 1977 Academy Awards, Rosenfelt and other execs were confident that “Network” would win the Oscar for best picture. When “Rocky” won instead, nobody was allowed to mention the movie “Rocky” in his house.

In 1981, Rosenfelt led the negotiations for MGM to acquire United Artists from insurance giant Transamerica after UA incurred huge losses on its disastrous “Heaven's Gate” film.

In 1982, Rosenfelt's duties changed with the naming of lawyer Frank Rothman to oversee the studio. Rosenfelt, then a vice chairman at MGM/UA, was named chief executive of UA. He later moved to London for the company, eventually setting up a consulting business.

Born Nov. 15, 1921, Rosenfelt grew up in New York. He served in the Army under Gen. George S. Patton during World War II, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and earning a Purple Heart.

After graduating from Cornell University Law School, Rosenfelt joined the RKO studio in 1950 as a lawyer before moving on to MGM.