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Industry King

Shivah Stars

Stephanie Butnick
February 09, 2012
Zalman King.(IMDB)
Zalman King.(IMDB)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Zalman King, who died last Friday at 70. King, who was born Zalman King Lefkowitz in Trenton, NJ, but dropped his last name when he began acting, was a filmmaker best known for bringing soft core films to late-night television. In 1992 he created Red Shoe Diaries for Showtime, which starred David Duchovny in what could be described as an unintentional prequel to Duchovny’s role on Californication had the film (and subsequent 67-episode series) not been told from the female point of view—a hallmark of King’s work and the key to his success with television programming.

As an actor, one of his early television roles was in The Young Lawyers, for which he was called “the first overtly Jewish leading man in an American television series” by the New York Times. As a director many years later, King was approached by Stanley Kubrick for advice during the filming of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.