Tuesday, 30 July 2013

RIP: Stanley Margolis 1934-2013

It is with great sorrow that I have to announce the passing of former Tigon films boss Stanley Margolis, an ex-husband of my friend Suzy Mandel.

Margolis was a tremendous property wiz who along with his friend, mentor and business partner Laurie Peter Marsh was the driving force behind Star Holdings Inc. Throughout the 1960s Star Holdings was involved in the business of buying up cinemas, finding a particular niche in then totally or partially renovating them into Casinos and Bingo Halls. Celebrities like Leonard Sachs and Coronation Street’s Pat Phoenix were often employed in publicity stunts to mark the re-opening of the premises.

One of Margolis’ earliest known involvement in film was working in an uncredited capacity on the 1965 film Repulsion, produced by Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger. Margolis later recalled to Suzy the onset conflicts that arose over the perfectionist nature of the film’s director Roman Polanski, resulting in several members of the production –Margolis included- unsuccessfully attempting to oust Polanski from the project and have Repulsion finished by a ghost director.

A year later Star Holdings would cross paths with Tony Tenser again after Tenser sought out Laurie Marsh’s advice and financial assistance in acquiring the Windmill Theatre in Soho. This in turn lead to Marsh and Margolis becoming financially involved in Tenser’s newly formed film production and distribution company Tigon. Initially silent partners, the years that followed saw Marsh and Margolis’ interest and involvement in the company grow, and Tigon’s film production output shift from its exploitation film roots to more mainstream titles like Hannie Caulder, Black Beauty and The Magnificent 7 Deadly Sins. A change in direction for the company also resulted in a change of name for its film production arm, which became known as L.M.G (The Laurie Marsh Group) for its final few productions- The Creeping Flesh, Not Now Darling, and For The Love of Ada.

In contrast to Marsh, whose business dealings, film industry involvement and private life rarely saw him out of the newspapers during this period, Margolis kept a much lower profile, making the full extent of his involvement in Tigon and L.M.G hard to document. As such Margolis is something of the forgotten man in the Tigon story.

1970 advert for a Star Holdings owned cinema
The Star Holdings company expanded further in the 1970s, after buying the Classic Cinema Chain and the Essoldo Chain in 1971. Reportedly acquiring the former for seven million pounds, according to press reports of the time. 1974 saw the company also branch out into the theatre market and- in conjunction with 1950s pop impresario Larry Parnes- Marsh formed ‘Laurence Theatres’ an offshoot of Star Holdings that set about converting cinemas into theatres.


After Tony Tenser departed from Tigon in 1972, Marsh and Margolis became its two most influential figures and the company ceased to be active in film production, concentrating solely on distributing other people’s movies. Tigon might have become a small fish in the larger pool that was Margolis and Marsh’s business empire but it remained a lucrative arm of the company, releasing many of the big hits of the British sex comedy era including Intimate Games, Come Play With Me and The Playbirds, all co-starring Suzy Mandel who’d become Margolis’ third wife in 1981.

Suzy first met Margolis in 1977, not however as a result of the Tigon released films, but after being introduced by their mutual friend, the prolific sexploitation film producer and director David Hamilton Grant. Margolis had an eye on expanding Star Holdings into the US property market and in 1976 had relocated to Los Angeles along with his two children from his second marriage, a son Alex and a daughter Rachel. At one point in time Star Holdings owned the Airport Park Hotel in Los Angeles, several condo conversations in the La Jolla neighbourhood of San Diego and apartment complexes in Houston, Texas.

the airport park hotel- early 1980s

During the 1980s Margolis maintained a diverse number of business interests, he bred and professionally raced greyhounds and in 1983 founded ‘FinMgt’ a firm that managed the business affairs of actors, writers, musicians and record producers. Margolis himself occasionally returned to dabble in the entertainment industry; in the early 1980s he produced a TV pilot “We’re Making It” starring Peter Lawford and Suzy in a small role. His final involvement with the film world and his only known onscreen credit was as executive producer of Tony Scott’s True Romance in 1993. He and Suzy divorced a year later but he remained a fondly remembered figure in her life who she affectionately referred to as ‘my ex-old man’.

“Although we were divorced for a long time” remembers Suzy “we did spend many years together and some very good times, he was a very big part of my life”.

Stanley Margolis passed away at UCLA Medical Center on Sunday the 14th 2013, he is survived by his fourth wife Angela, Suzy (his third wife), his second wife Lorraine, his daughter by Lorraine, Rachel McDermott, his son-in-law, David and his grandchildren Cynthia and Christopher.

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