“A gambler who thought he was a gunslinger…”
HLWW was sad to hear late Monday night that Peter S. Davis, the CEO and President of Davis-Panzer Productions (DPP) and Davis Merchandising – and friend to HLWW – passed away on Sunday just a short while before his eightieth birthday.
Peter was often described as the practical side of Davis-Panzer Productions. While his long-term business partner Bill Panzer (who passed away in 2007) was the man who seized on ideas and concepts and was the enigmatic public face, it would be the more quiet and private Peter who would work out the best way to finance those plans and the practical ways to bring them to the screen. In nearly four decades of collaboration, DPP produced over 17 feature films and 150 hours of dramatic television and the dup would work with a number of existing screen legends and those who would go on to have significant careers.
Their first feature film was Death Collector (starring Joe Pesci) and another key entry included The Osterman Weekend (directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Burt Reynolds, Rutger Hauer, Dennis Hopper and John Hurt). In the years to come Peter would oversee productions featuring Jodie Foster, Ed Asner, Art Carney, Donald Sutherland, George Kennedy, Robert Forester, Craig T. Nelson, Glenda Jackson and Richard Harris among others.
But it is 1986’s Highlander (starring San Connery and Christopher Lambert) for which he and Bill will best be remembered. The classic, timeless story of Immortals fighting down through the ages in search of a legendary ‘Prize’ was a slow-burn hit that went on to become a major franchise with its five feature films, three tv series (collectively running to over 150 hours of television) and an anime film. A short ‘reunion’ film featuring some of the main Highlander series cast was actually shot in and around Peter Davis’ own Californian beachside home.
He never shied away from controversy and certainly provoked passionate responses – positive and negative – throughout his career, but in the last few years had become more reflective, taking the time during the COVID crisis to take the frustrations of not being able to travel and entertain to the full and channeling those energies into the anticipated revival of Highlander projects. Peter and DPP have been partnering with Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment on a long-gestating reboot/remake of the original Highlander film remains in development which will continue.
He is survived by his wife Katia, his son Joshua, his daughter Danielle, his sister Vida and two grandchildren.
Tributes have started to come in from many who worked with him…
Davis-Panzer’s official facebook page posted the following tribute to their founder..
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter S. Davis, producer of the HIGHLANDER feature films and television series.
Without Peter Davis there would be no HIGHLANDER.
Without Peter Davis, there would be no HIGHLANDER series.
Without Peter Davis, there would be no HIGHLANDER merchandise.
Peter was involved in every aspect of HIGHLANDER. It was his baby alongside producing partner Bill Panzer.
Peter was a giant of a man; both in stature and charisma. He was also a man of mystery; often keeping a low profile underneath his purple-tinted shades. One would rationally assume Peter was a cold or aloof individual from afar. When you engaged him, however, you were instantly disarmed by a warm, gentle man. A man who sincerely felt praise when you told him how much you appreciated his work as a producer; or how you loved opening a box from Davis/Panzer filled with HIGHLANDER merchandise.
Peter could be brief-and oftentimes bold-but you always knew you were talking to someone who cared in the moment about what they were doing and your involvement in his world.
In his later years, Peter often reflected on his career in HIGHLANDER with much pride and great hindsight. He wished he had been more involved in the creative decisions of the franchise throughout the years and decided to take a more active role in the reimagining of HIGHLANDER currently in development with director Chad Stahelski. Chad is someone who always showed Peter great respect through HIGHLANDER’s long journey back to the silver screen and we have no doubt he’ll continue to honor Peter’s memory with this new film.
Peter was also dreaming of giving the fans even more HIGHLANDER merchandise in the future; something we intend to follow through on moving forward.
HIGHLANDER will continue. The franchise that Peter Davis and Bill Panzer brought to life is truly immortal. Their dreams for what it could be will come to fruition in their memories.
Tonight, watch something from HIGHLANDER that you love. Watch a movie or your favorite episode of the series. When you arrive at the credit with Peter’s name on it, raise a glass to him tonight in tribute to all the joy and entertainment he brought you throughout the years.
Kareem Michael Dimashkie (Director New Media, Davis/Panzer Productions and one of the main links between the company and Highlander’s fanbase) wrote, in part…
More than anything, Peter taught me to be grateful. We were once in the lobby of a studio following a disappointing meeting on a new HIGHLANDER video game. Peter and I were sitting there; crestfallen over the results of the morning. Instead of complaining about what we just experienced together, he turned to me and said, “I want you to know I appreciate all you do. It helps a great deal.” He went on to say he made some decisions in the past that were, in retrospect, not the best for the fans or the franchise. It hurt him that his friends had to carry the weight of those decisions now and he very much wished to make it right.
On the subject of fans, know that Peter loved you all. You were an extended family to him and he wanted nothing but to keep you entertained and involved in the HIGHLANDER world. He could be shy–and he didn’t prefer the spotlight–but that never meant he didn’t care. Many tales will be told about Peter in the future. I can only speak for the time I knew him, but I can honestly say he was nothing but kind, generous, loving and sincere to me always. I’ll miss him and think about him every time I accomplish something I’m proud of. I’ll remember the lessons he taught me and fight to make what he built better than ever.
Carmel Macpherson, President of HLWW wrote…
On behalf of the Highlander fan base I would like to offer our condolences on this very sad news of Peter’s passing.
There are very few Producers who would have ever put the time into supporting and encouraging Highlander fans in the way that Peter – and Bill before him – did. He was extraordinarily generous to me with his time in helping make the Highlander WorldWide conventions the success that they were.
Thank you Peter. You brought much happiness to many many people and we are integral to helping establish a global network of friends who all met through Highlander and who have maintained those friendships over decades.
May the winds be with you.