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Olympic filmmaker Bud Greenspan dies

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Olympic filmmaker Bud Greenspan dies
  • Olympic documentary filmmaker Bud Greenspan dies at 84
  • Greenspan died of complications from Parkinson's disease, his companion says
  • Greenspan made uplifting films about Olympic athletes overcoming tragedy

(CNN) -- Bud Greenspan, the filmmaker known for producing documentaries about the inspirational stories of Olympic athletes, has died.

Greenspan, 84, succumbed Saturday afternoon to complications from Parkinson's Disease, according to companion Nancy Beffa.

Greenspan, who began his career in sports radio broadcasting in the mid-1940s, became a filmmaker a decade later.

His first documentary to attract widespread attention was his 1964 film, "Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin."

That documentary -- and 21 other Greenspan films that made up the series "The Olympiad" -- garnered him an Emmy Award in 1976. Greenspan went on to make numerous other films including docudramas. He also authored several books about the Olympics.

CNN was provided with an e-mail Beffa received from Norm Bellingham after he had been told of Greenspan's death.

Bellingham is chief operating officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee and an Olympic gold medalist.

"I am feeling a terrible loss," Bellingham. "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."

In a prepared statement released Sunday afternoon, USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said, "For more than six decades, Bud Greenspan has connected the Olympic Movement to everyday people in ways the founders of the Games couldn't have imagined."

"While the entire Olympic Movement mourns the loss of a giant today," Blackmun stated, "his stories will continue to live on, carrying his passion for the Olympic Movement for years and years to come."

CNN's John Branch contributed to this report.