Universal Studios Executive Vice President Rick Finkelstein has died after a long battle with cancer, Universal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer said in an internal message to staff.
Most recently, Finkelstein was with the studio for over three decades and most recently served as vice chairman and chief operating officer, Universal Pictures. In 2009, he was named a key strategic advisor to the Chairman of Universal Pictures Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley.
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“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,” Meyer wrote in his message. “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 stepped down from his post as chief operating officer in 2012, in a move that was portrayed at the time as paving the way for his eventual retirement. In that capacity, he oversaw worldwide home entertainment, TV and digital distribution.
The veteran executive endured a number of health issues and a major personal tragedy after a 2004 sking accident resulted in internal injuries and severed his spine. He remained wheelchair bound and was paralyzed from the waist down. Finkelstein was 64.
His struggle and subsequent return to the slopes as a disabled skier was the basis of a 2011 documentary short film “The Movement.”
Finkelstein started out as an entertainment lawyer at Mitchell, Silverberg and Knupp, and later held executive positions at De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Nelson Films and PolyGram, which merged with Universal in 1999. When the companies joined, Finkelstein was named senior vice president, corporate development and strategic planning for Universal Studios.