Published November 11, 2005
| Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – Syrian-born film producer Moustapha Akkad, whose three decades of work in Hollywood ranged from the "Halloween" slasher films to more serious movies with Muslim themes, died Friday from wounds sustained in the bombing of a Jordan hotel. He was 75.
The Los Angeles resident died in a Jordanian hospital.
Bombs exploded almost simultaneously Wednesday at three Amman hotels, including the Radisson SAS, where Akkad had been greeting his daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, in the lobby.
The attacks killed 57 people, including Monla, 34, who was buried in Lebanon. She and her father had been in Amman for a wedding.
Akkad produced all eight "Halloween" movies. He also directed and produced two religious-themed films, "The Message" and "Lion of the Desert," both starring Anthony Quinn.
Akkad worked closely with Hollywood executive Bob Weinstein on a number of movies.
"Everyone at The Weinstein Co. is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, Moustapha Akkad," Weinstein said. "Our thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time."
Akkad, the eldest of eight siblings, was born in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in 1930. He came to California in 1950 to study filmmaking, according to his sister, Leila Akkad.
He earned a degree in theater arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, then went to work as a production assistant for renowned director Sam Peckinpah on the Western "Ride the High Country" in 1962.
Akkad's most serious efforts could be seen in his two dramas about the history of Islam. "The Message," a 1976 film about the Prophet Muhammad, was widely acclaimed in the Middle East.
But a group of American Muslims declared "The Message" to be sacrilege and took hostages at three locations when the film opened in Washington, demanding that it not be shown in the United States.
Akkad was baffled by the reaction to the film, which he said cost $17 million to make and was nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.
"I made the film to bring the story of Islam, the story of 700 million people, to the West," Akkad told The Associated Press in 1977.
"Lion of the Desert," a 1981 film, told the story of a Muslim rebel who fought against Italy's World War II conquest of Libya.
Akkad and director John Carpenter began the hugely popular "Halloween" franchise in 1978. The first movie featuring the masked killer Michael Myers inspired a cult following and seven sequels, and launched the careers of Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
Akkad was a constant presence in the franchise. The Weinstein Co. described him in a prepared statement as "the man who's taken charge of Michael Myers and has stood behind him on each film."
Carpenter recalled Akkad as a "very, very nice man" who gave him creative control of the first "Halloween" movie.
"'Halloween' put me on the map, and I'm very sad to hear of his death," Carpenter said.
Akkad said he turned to horror films because he found it hard to raise money for religious-themed movies, according to a 1998 New York Times report.
Rima Akkad Monla grew up in Los Angeles and was an avid polo player who graduated from the University of Southern California in 1995 with a degree in international relations.
She lived in Beirut, Lebanon, where pursued a master's degree in Middle East studies at American University. Survivors include her husband, Ziad Monla, and their sons, ages 2 and 4.
Akkad's sister called for an end to terrorist attacks on civilians.
"I feel sad and the world feels sorrow with us. This kind of incident rarely happens, but it has happened with Moustapha Akkad," Leila Akkad told AP in a telephone interview. "These attacks are chaotic and do not differentiate an enemy from a friend."
Moustapha Akkad, who was divorced, also had three sons, Tarek, Malek and Zeido. Funeral services were scheduled for Sunday in his hometown of Aleppo.