"He came in about an hour and a half after the winner. He was practically carrying his leg, it was so bloodied and bandaged," Greenspan recalled in that ESPN.com interview. "I asked him, 'Why did you keep going?' He said, 'You don't understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race, they sent me to finish it.' That sent chills down my spine and I've always remembered it."
In 1985, when Greenspan received the Olympic Order award, former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch called him the "foremost producer, writer and director of Olympic films; more than that, he is an everlasting friend of the Olympic family."
The admiration was mutual. Greenspan acknowledged the problems that plagued the Olympic movement, but rarely lingered over them in his films.
"They're two weeks of love," he said about the games. "It's Like Never Never Land. Like Robin Hood shooting his arrow through the other guy's arrow.
"It's a privilege to be associated with the best in the world. How many times are you with the best in the world in something? They bring things forward that they don't ordinarily do."
Born Joseph Greenspan, the native New Yorker also wrote books, produced nearly 20 spoken-word albums and was an avid tennis players into his 70s. He struggled with Parkinson's the last few years, but refused to let it curtail his work and traveling.
"His legacy, really, is his films. He wanted them to live on, to illuminate what was good about people," Beffa said. "He understood the other side of the Olympics, he just was determined not to let that change the glasses through which he looked at the world."
Besides Beffa, Greenspan is survived by a sister, Sarah Rosenberg.
There was no word on a funeral. The family has requested that any donations be made to a scholarship in his name administered by the USOC at the University of Southern California film school.
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