Although he might be most remembered for writing, directing and producing erotic fare in theaters and on pay cable, Zalman King, born Zalman Lefkovitz on May 23, 1942 in Trenton,New Jersey, actually started his Hollywood career in front of the cameras as an actor. He starred in a number of guest roles in the 1960s and 1970 on television shows such The Munsters, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Charlie’s Angels, and for a brief time has a co-starring role on the ABC drama The Young Lawyers, which ran from 1969 to 1971, a role that earned King a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Television in 1971.
It was in 1980 that King began his transition to behind the scenes work, writing and producing the Meatloaf vehicle, Roadie. But King would find his milieu just six years later with another film he wrote a produced.
1986’s 9 1/2 Weeks was an explicit look a the kinky lengths two people when to in their casual sexual relationship. In many ways, it was a look at the darker, taboo side of sex, themes King would return to numerous times, many times adding director to his resume, in films such as Two Moon Junction (1988) and Wild Orchid (1989). He would later partner with cable network Showtime to bring his brand of damage people having unhealthy sex to soft-core TV shows such as The Red Shoe Diaries and, most recently, Body Language.
The news of King’s death was broken by his friend Charlie Sheen on Facebook. Sheen eulogized King as such:
The world lost a brilliant and noble soul today. My dear friend of 40 years, Zalman King, just lost his battle with cancer. Fought like a recon marine til the bitter end. Say a prayer for his amazing wife Pat and their lovely daughters. Safe travels my friend. C
King was 69 years old.