William Norton Panzer (September 6, 1942 – March 18, 2007), also referred to as Bill Panzer, was an American television and film producer best known as one half of Davis-Panzer Inc, the production company behind the Highlander franchise.
Panzer was born in New York City and educated at Princeton University. He then attended the New York University Film School, and worked as a cameraman and film editor, then produced television commercials at VPI. In 1968, still at New York University, he produced the feature documentary Mexican Anticipation starring Duke Ellington. Panzer then partnered Phos Cine Productions in New York, making commercials and industrial films for seven years.
In 1976, Panzer moved to Los Angeles and partnered with Peter Davis to found Davis-Panzer Productions. They produced more than twenty films, including The Osterman Weekend (1983, directed by Sam Peckinpah), Death Collector with Joe Pesci, Stunts, and Freeway (1988).
This company also made the Highlander franchise, which comprises five movies, two television series, animated features and video games. Panzer co-wrote screenplays for three Highlander movies, was Executive Producer of Highlander: The Series, which were nominated three times for the Gemini Awards and once for a Saturn Award in 1998. Panzer regularly attended Highlander conventions, where he mingled with fans and was very popular. Panzer has also been a familiar figure at the Cannes Film Festival since 1982.
On March 18, 2007, Panzer, who owned a home in Ketchum, Idaho, fell while iceskating at the neighbouring resort of Sun Valley. After being transported by helicopter to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, he died at 7:01 p.m. Cause of death was a "blunt force trauma of the head due to a ground level fall," stated the Ada County Coroners' office.
Panzer was a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and of the Television Academy. His wife was Priscilla Panzer. There is a scholarship fund in his name at the Lawrenceville School in Princeton, New Jersey.
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