Famed Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub has died at 77.
The three-time Emmy winner and onetime head of United Artists studio died of a heart attack on Monday at his home in Palm Springs, California, Variety reports.
Known for producing such films as Nashville, Diner, The Karate Kid and Ocean’s 11, Weintraub worked with some of the biggest names in music, television and film, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Reflecting on his decades-long career to PEOPLE in a 2011 interview, Weintraub said, “I started with zip. By 26, I was a multi-millionaire. I’m the great American Dream.”
The only celebrity who left him starstruck?
“Joe DiMaggio,” he confessed to PEOPLE. “Until I got to know him through Sinatra. I couldn’t have done what I did and worked with [Presley, Clooney and Cary Grant] had I been starstruck. As the guy in charge, I had to be assertive, and they had to believe I knew what I was talking about.”
“He was an absolute original,” Pitt said in a statement after Weintraub’s death. “I loved him and will genuinely miss him.”
Clooney also released a statement Monday:
“In the coming days there will be tributes, about our friend Jerry Weintraub. We’ll laugh at his great stories, and applaud his accomplishments. And in the years to come the stories and accomplishments will get better with age, just as Jerry would have wanted it. But not today. Today our friend died. To his family and friends, Amal and I send our love. And to those who didn’t know him we send our deepest sympathy. You would have loved him.”
The producer was also a close friend of former President George H.W. Bush, who released the following statement Monday:
“Barbara and I mourn the passing of our close and wonderfully irrepressible friend, Jerry Weintraub. Jerry was an American original, who earned his success by the sheer force of his instinct, drive, and larger-than-life personality. He had a passion for life, and throughout the ups and downs of his prolific career it was clear just how much he loved show business. I used to tease him about a being ‘black belt name-dropper,’ but he really did seem to know everyone in showbiz – and we join his many friends in remembering and celebrating his singular life.”
Weintraub, who produced the Emmy award-winning HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, was also an executive producer on the network’s new comedy The Brink.
His final project was Tarzan, which is due out next year and stars Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Sam Jackson and Christoph Waltz.
Weintraub shared the key to his success with PEOPLE in 2011, saying, “Once I say I’m going to do something, I do it. If I lose, I lose. If I win, I win. I’ve lost plenty of times, but I’ve won a lot more times.”