(photo credit: Courtesy)
Legendary Israeli-born impresario Shmuel Zemach, who brought such international entertainment luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, Julio Iglesias, Enrico Macias, Scorpions, Elton John, Leonard Cohern, Mercedes Sosa, Cliff Richards, Paul Anka, Luciano Pavarotti and many other great stars to Israel, has died at age 85.
Born in Petah Tikva, Zemach started out as a 12-year-old in the municipal youth department of his hometown, organizing events for various youth groups.
He did this so successfully that he eventually came to the attention of the powers-that-be – or rather powers- that-were – in Jerusalem and he was invited to join the organizing committee for Israel’s 10th anniversary celebrations. He also represented the Kibbutz Movement at its annual art and entertainment festival in Haifa.
Teddy Kollek, while working in the Prime Minister’s Office before becoming mayor of Jerusalem, sent him to the United States to hone up on coordinating events, organizing exhibitions and producing sound and light shows. During his time in America, Zemach learned a great deal and after his return home became one of the leaders in the field of live entertainment, including Broadway-style musicales, classical ballet and every kind of music from opera to rock.
Together with his son Yoav, he established Zemach productions and brought in his wife Dr. Brach Zemach, a former dancer and ballet teacher as the company’s consultant.
Zemach worked together with another legend of Israel’s entertainment world, Giora Godik and was appointed administrative director of the Giora Godik Theater, which produced such musical extravaganzas as My Fair Lady, West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof. He also worked with another legendary impresario, Avraham Deshe, known as Pashanel.
Godik died in 1977 and Pashanel in 2004.
Zemach also established various theater and dance troupes, and served for many years as the chairman of the Israel Association of Promoters and Producers, of which he was subsequently made honorary life president. He was the recipient of many awards, among them the Israel Theater Prize, the EMI Prize, the Variety Prize, both locally and internationally in recognition of his work for children, and the ACUM Life Achievement award. Zemach was also honored by the City of Tel Aviv - Jaffa.
He is survived by his wife Bracha, their three children Tali, Hila and Yoav and 10 grandchildren.
Prior to his funeral on Monday, his coffin will be brought to the stage of the Cameri Theater at noon, and after local entertainers and members of the general public pay their respects, the coffin will be taken to the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel Aviv, where the funeral will take place at 3 p.m.