Emmy Award-Winning Olympic Filmmaker Bud Greenspan Dies

Sunday, Dec 26, 2010  |  Updated 1:53 PM CDT
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In Memoriam

AP

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Showtime shows sports film producer Bud Greenspan. Greenspan, who spent decades documenting the stories of Olympic athletes has died, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010. He was 84. (AP Photo/Showtime, Ted Batenburg) NO SALES

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Bud Greenspan, a sports filmmaker famed for his documentaries of Olympians and his storytelling skills, died at his home with companion Nancy Beffa at his side on Christmas afternoon.


Beffa told the AP that he passed away in his New York City home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 84.


Greenspan was most recently working with footage from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but the award-winning director's career spanned over six decades. Although he's interviewed big-time athletes from Lance Armstrong and Muhammed Ali, he is particularly well known for his ability to tell stories of both big and small victories.


His most memorable Olympic moment, the AP reported, was when Tanzanian marathoner John Stephen Ahkwari crossed the finish line in last place in Mexico City, 1968.


"He came in about an hour and a half after the winner. He was practically carrying his leg, it was so bloodied and bandaged," Greenspan told ESPN.com nearly a decade ago. "I asked him, 'Why did you keep going?' He said, 'You don't understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race, they sent me to finish it.' That sent chills down my spine and I've always remembered it."


Greenspan's career launched with his 1966 documentary, "Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin," and he has since been a storyteller for countless athletes. He is also well known for his 22-part series, "The Olympiad," and won a lifetime achievement Emmy, among other Emmys, in 2006.


A native New Yorker who started in radio, Greenspan was respected and admired by many. U.S. Olympic Committee officer and Olympic gold medalist heard about the sad news from Beffa.


"I am feeling a terrible loss," Bellingham stated in an e-mail, CNN reported. "I was just thinking of him this morning -- looking through the many Olympic stories and wondering how he picked the ones that he did and then sorted out how to tell them with such extraordinary power."

Selected Reading: CNN, IMDB, AP

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