‘Wild Orchid’ director Zalman King dies at 70

Zalman King poses outside an unidentified location in the 1970s.
Zalman King poses outside an unidentified location in the 1970s.
  • Zalman King was an actor in several 1960s TV shows
  • He later produced several films, including "Nine and 1/2 Weeks"
  • His directing credits include the erotic drama, "Wild Orchid"
  • Charlie Sheen remembers King as a "brilliant and noble soul"

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Zalman King, a onetime actor who went on to produce and direct numerous films including "Wild Orchid," died Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer, his son-in-law said.

King was 70.

After fighting cancer for six years, King died Friday morning at his home in Santa Monica, California, son-in-law Allison Burnett told CNN.

His wife and longtime contributor, writer-director Patricia Louisiana Knopp, was by his side.

Born Zalman Lefkovitz, King broke into Hollywood in the 1960s as an actor with roles on several TV series including "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke" and "The Young Lawyers," according to the online Internet Movie Database website, imdb.com.

He produced several films in the 1980s, including the erotic drama "9½ Weeks" starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. And in 1989, King moved behind the camera to direct "Wild Orchid," written by him and his wife and featuring Rourke and Jacqueline Bisset.

According to Burnett, late director Stanley Kubrick would call King "every night" while shooting "Eyes Wide Shut," starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, to get ideas on shooting erotic scenes.

King also knew Martin Sheen for decades, as well as his son Charlie Sheen, according to Burnett.

The former "Platoon," "Wall Street" and "Two and a Half Men" star lauded King as a "brilliant and noble soul" in a statement Friday on his website.

"My dear friend of 40 years, Zalman King, just lost his battle with cancer," Charlie Sheen wrote. "Fought like a recon marine til the bitter end."