Veteran British producer Michael White dies aged 80

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran British film and theater producer Michael White, best known for producing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” has died, his ex-girlfriend said Tuesday. He was 80.

White, whose credits span theater, film and television, died on Monday night in Ojai, California, at the home of ex-wife Louise White, the producer’s former girlfriend, Lyndall Hobbs, told Reuters.

“It would seem he died of heart failure having been told about 8 weeks ago that he needed open heart surgery but he was too weak for surgery,” Hobbs, a filmmaker, said, adding that his ex-wife and son had cared for him as his “health deteriorated rapidly.”

“Michael had an appetite for life that was unmatched in my opinion,” Hobbs said. “A unique man who put on hundreds of shows and truly was a theatrical pioneer.”

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, White began his career producing plays on London’s West End with shows such as “Oh! Calcutta,” “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Annie.”

He transitioned into films, producing numerous projects including British cult classic comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in 1974, and “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1978.

Most recently, White was the subject of a 2013 documentary “The Last Impresario,” directed by Gracie Otto, which followed his exuberant life mingling with the A-list in London and featured interviews with friends and colleagues including Kate Moss and John Cleese.

Supermodel Moss was on hand to present White with the Special Award, honoring lifetime achievements, at Britain’s Olivier Awards in 2014.

Otto said on Twitter on Tuesday that White was “a true inspiration & generous soul. changed my life forever.”

Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sandra Maler