Michael Herz: A Biography of the Co-Founder of Troma Entertainment

Michael Herz is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter, best known as the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, the world’s longest-running independent film studio. Born on May 9, 1949, in New York City, Herz has made significant contributions to the film industry throughout his career.

Key Takeaways:

  • Michael Herz co-founded Troma Entertainment, a renowned independent film studio.
  • He is known for his work on the comedic horror films, including the popular Toxic Avenger series.
  • Herz’s involvement in Troma Entertainment has helped shape the landscape of independent filmmaking.
  • He is part of the wealthy Herz family business empire and has had success in various ventures, including his co-ownership of Tchibo.
  • While Herz prefers to remain behind the scenes, his legacy and influence in the film industry endure.

Early Life and Career

Michael Herz’s early life and career were marked by a fortuitous meeting with Lloyd Kaufman while attending Yale University. Although they didn’t initially hit it off, their paths would soon intertwine in the world of filmmaking. Herz’s journey began when he landed a role in Kaufman’s first feature film, “The Girl Who Returned.” It was during this time that Herz discovered his passion for the industry and secretly nurtured a desire to become a screenwriter.

After graduating from Yale, Herz pursued a law degree at New York University. However, his passion for film was undeniable, and he reached out to Kaufman after witnessing his work on the film “Cry Uncle!” This connection led to Herz’s involvement in the production of the 1973 film “Sugar Cookies,” which served as a launching pad for his career as a producer and screenwriter.

Through their collaboration, Herz and Kaufman laid the foundation for their successful partnership and would go on to co-found Troma Entertainment, a legendary independent film studio that would revolutionize the industry.

“The Girl Who Returned” marked the beginning of Michael Herz’s journey in the film industry, as well as his lifelong partnership with Lloyd Kaufman.

Herz and Kaufman’s partnership has lasted for decades, with Troma Entertainment becoming one of the world’s most iconic independent film studios.

Early Collaborations and the Birth of Troma

With their shared love for unconventional storytelling, Herz and Kaufman forged ahead and co-founded Troma Entertainment in 1974. The studio quickly gained recognition for its unique brand of comedic horror films, carving out a niche in the industry that would become their trademark.

Herz and Kaufman not only co-directed and co-produced Troma’s original movies but also actively participated in every aspect of the filmmaking process. From 1979’s “Squeeze Play!” to 1990’s “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.,” the duo’s creative vision and business acumen propelled Troma Entertainment to new heights.

Over the years, Troma became synonymous with cult classics, including the wildly popular “Toxic Avenger” series and the irreverent “Tromeo and Juliet.” The duo’s ability to blend humor with horror resonated with audiences, solidifying their status as pioneers in the independent film industry.

Year Title
1979 Squeeze Play!
1984 The Toxic Avenger
1990 Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.

Herz’s focus on the business side of Troma Studios allowed him to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the company, while Kaufman took on the role of the studio’s public face. Together, they built a lasting legacy that would shape the independent film industry for years to come.

Co-Founding Troma Entertainment

Troma Entertainment, known for its comedic horror films, was co-founded by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman in 1974. Together, they directed and produced a wide range of original movies under the Troma banner. From the cult favorite Toxic Avenger series to the darkly comedic Tromeo and Juliet, Troma Entertainment has captured the hearts of horror enthusiasts and independent film lovers alike. While Lloyd Kaufman took on a more visible role as the face of Troma, Michael Herz focused on the business side of Troma Studios, ensuring its continued success.

Troma Entertainment’s unique blend of comedic elements and horror themes has set it apart in the film industry. The Toxic Avenger series, in particular, has become a fan favorite and showcases Troma’s ability to deliver both laughs and scares. With its loyal cult following, Troma has established itself as a reliable source of entertaining and unconventional films.

In addition to the Toxic Avenger series, Troma Entertainment has produced numerous other memorable films that have left an indelible mark on the independent film industry. With their commitment to pushing boundaries and defying conventions, Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman have paved the way for aspiring filmmakers to explore their creative visions without the constraints of mainstream Hollywood.

Personal Life and Family Wealth

Michael Herz leads a private life outside of his work in the film industry. He is married to Maris Herz, and the couple has a daughter named Sloane. (Keywords: Maris Herz, Sloane Herz) Michael comes from a wealthy family and is part of the Herz family business empire. One of their notable ventures is their ownership of Tchibo, a German coffee shop and retail chain. Tchibo is 100% owned by family members, and in 2003, Michael, along with his mother and brother, bought out his other brother and sister. The family’s holdings are managed by Maxingvest AG, formerly known as Tchibo Holding AG. (Keywords: Tchibo, Maxingvest AG)

Family Member Business Involvement
Michael Herz Co-ownership of Tchibo, involvement in Troma Entertainment
Maris Herz Married to Michael Herz
Sloane Herz Daughter of Michael and Maris Herz

Wealth and Business Ventures

Michael Herz’s involvement in Tchibo and Troma Entertainment has contributed to his substantial wealth. Tchibo, being a well-established coffee shop and retail chain, has added to the family’s fortune. Additionally, Michael has been involved in various business ventures and investments, such as the reorganization of book wholesaler Libri and the florist Blume 2000. However, his investment in the fashion company Escada didn’t fare well and resulted in bankruptcy. (Keywords: Tchibo, Libri, Blume 2000, Escada)

Despite this setback, Michael Herz’s business ventures have played a significant role in the family’s wealth and have contributed to their ongoing success. The Herz family’s entrepreneurial spirit and strategic investments have allowed them to maintain a prominent position within the business community.

“The family’s business empire, including Tchibo and Troma Entertainment, has been instrumental in our success and wealth. We continuously explore new opportunities and investments to ensure our continued growth and prosperity.” – Michael Herz

Business Ventures and Investments

Throughout his career, Michael Herz has ventured into various business endeavors and made strategic investments. Besides his involvement in the entertainment industry with Troma Entertainment, he has expanded his portfolio into other sectors.

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Investments in Retail

One notable area of Michael Herz’s investments is the retail industry. He purchased and reorganized the book wholesaler Libri, contributing to its growth and expansion. Additionally, he made a significant investment in Blume 2000, a popular florist chain in Germany. These ventures showcase his interest in the retail sector and his ability to identify promising business opportunities.

Role in Beiersdorf AG

“I saw the potential in Beiersdorf AG and believed in its future growth.”

Michael Herz played a pivotal role in preventing the break-up of Beiersdorf AG, a German personal care company known for brands like Nivea. His involvement ensured the stability and success of the company, further solidifying his reputation as a savvy investor.

Investment in Escada

One notable investment that didn’t yield favorable results was Michael Herz’s involvement in the fashion company Escada. Despite his efforts, the company eventually filed for bankruptcy. This experience highlights the risks inherent in the business world and serves as a reminder that not all investments will lead to success.


Michael Herz’s business ventures and investments demonstrate his diverse interests and his ability to navigate different industries. While some ventures, like his investments in retail, have been successful, others, such as his involvement with Escada, have faced challenges. Nonetheless, his entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take calculated risks have contributed to his overall business acumen.

Venture Outcome
Libri Successful investment
Blume 2000 Successful investment
Beiersdorf AG Successful intervention
Escada Unsuccessful investment, ended in bankruptcy

Lifestyle and Personal Insights

When it comes to his personal life, Michael Herz prefers to remain a private individual, allowing his partner Lloyd Kaufman to be the public face of Troma Entertainment. Herz is known for his physical fitness and has made rare appearances in the Class of Nuke ‘Em High series. Despite his involvement in the film industry, he keeps the details of his personal life mostly undisclosed, leading a private lifestyle away from the spotlight.

Insights into Michael Herz’s personal thoughts and experiences are limited due to his preference for privacy. He is known to be publicity-shy, which is evident in his avoidance of media attention. While he has played a significant role in the success of Troma Entertainment and has left a lasting impact on the independent film industry, he chooses to maintain a low-profile presence, focusing on his work behind the scenes.


While specific details and contributions of Michael Herz’s philanthropy are not readily available, it is known that individuals from wealthy families often engage in charitable giving. Given the Herz family’s substantial wealth, it is likely that they are involved in philanthropic endeavors and contribute to various causes and organizations. However, the specific charitable contributions made by Michael Herz are not publicly documented.

Philanthropy plays a crucial role in society by providing financial support to address social and environmental issues. It allows individuals and organizations to make a positive impact and create meaningful change. With his success in the film industry and his involvement in various business ventures, Michael Herz likely has the means and the desire to give back to the community and support causes that align with his values.

“I believe in the power of philanthropy to make a difference in the world. Giving back is not only a responsibility but also a privilege.”

Charitable contributions can take many forms, including donations to nonprofit organizations, funding research initiatives, supporting educational institutions, and promoting social projects. While the specific focus of Michael Herz’s philanthropy is not publicly known, his financial resources and potential passion for specific causes suggest that he may have made significant contributions to address societal challenges and support those in need.

Key Areas of Philanthropic Involvement Examples of Potential Charitable Contributions
Education Donations to educational institutions and scholarship programs
Healthcare Funding medical research, supporting healthcare facilities
Arts and Culture Sponsorship of arts organizations, funding for cultural preservation
Environmental Conservation Supporting sustainability initiatives, funding conservation projects
Social Services Contributions to organizations addressing poverty, homelessness, and social inequality

While the specific details of Michael Herz’s philanthropy remain undisclosed, it is important to recognize the potential impact of his contributions. Philanthropy has the power to create lasting change and improve the lives of individuals and communities. The generosity of individuals like Michael Herz helps address pressing social issues and empowers organizations to make a difference.

Influence in the Film Industry

Michael Herz has been a key figure in shaping the independent film industry through his role as the co-founder of Troma Entertainment. As the world’s longest-running independent film studio, Troma has had a significant impact on the industry as a whole. With a unique blend of comedy and horror, Troma films have garnered a dedicated cult following and inspired countless independent filmmakers.

One of Troma’s most notable successes is the Toxic Avenger series, which has become iconic within the genre. The tale of a mutant superhero fighting crime in Tromaville has resonated with audiences and has been a major influence on the independent film scene. The success of the Toxic Avenger series and other Troma films has paved the way for more unconventional and boundary-pushing storytelling in independent cinema.

“Troma’s films have an undeniable impact on the independent film industry. They have shown that you can create unique, offbeat, and entertaining movies without the constraints of a big studio. Michael Herz’s contributions as a co-founder of Troma have been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what independent filmmakers can achieve.”

Through Troma Entertainment, Michael Herz has helped create a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their talent and creativity. With their commitment to low-budget productions and a DIY ethos, Troma has inspired a generation of filmmakers to follow their creative ambitions and prove that independent cinema can thrive outside of the mainstream.

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Troma Films: A Legacy of Independent Filmmaking

Troma Entertainment’s legacy extends beyond individual films. The studio’s commitment to producing independent and unconventional movies has influenced not only filmmakers but also audiences who crave unique and alternative storytelling. Troma’s impact on the independent film industry continues to be felt today, as new generations of filmmakers draw inspiration from their groundbreaking work.


Michael Herz’s legacy is firmly rooted in his contributions to Troma Entertainment and the independent film industry. As the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, Herz played an instrumental role in establishing the studio as a pioneering force in independent filmmaking. Troma Entertainment’s unique blend of comedy and horror, showcased in iconic films like the Toxic Avenger series and Tromeo and Juliet, has left an indelible mark on audiences and inspired countless filmmakers to pursue their creative ambitions.

Through Troma Entertainment, Michael Herz helped shape the landscape of the independent film industry by pushing the boundaries of storytelling and defying conventional norms. The studio’s commitment to producing and distributing offbeat, daring films has paved the way for other independent filmmakers to explore unconventional themes and embrace their artistic vision.

Furthermore, Troma Entertainment’s enduring popularity and cult following highlight the lasting impact of Michael Herz’s work. Over the years, the studio has amassed a dedicated fan base that continues to celebrate and embrace its unique brand of filmmaking. Troma films have become synonymous with a certain level of irreverence and boldness, creating a distinct aesthetic and narrative style that has influenced independent filmmakers around the world.

Influence on the Independent Film Industry

Michael Herz’s contributions to Troma Entertainment have had a profound impact on the independent film industry. The success of Troma films, particularly the Toxic Avenger series, has showcased the potential for independent filmmakers to create compelling stories that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Troma Entertainment’s commitment to pushing boundaries, embracing unconventional narratives, and challenging societal norms has paved the way for other independent filmmakers to break free from traditional storytelling tropes. The studio’s emphasis on creativity, resourcefulness, and perseverance has inspired aspiring filmmakers and provided a platform to showcase their talents.

In addition to their artistic contributions, Troma Entertainment’s success has also had an economic impact on the independent film industry. The studio’s ability to produce profitable films with limited budgets has demonstrated the viability of independent filmmaking as a lucrative business venture. This success has fostered a supportive ecosystem for independent filmmakers, encouraging the growth of the industry as a whole.

In conclusion, Michael Herz’s legacy in the independent film industry is defined by his co-founding of Troma Entertainment and his unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries and embracing creativity. Through Troma films, Herz has inspired and influenced countless filmmakers, leaving a lasting impact on the independent film industry and securing his place as a trailblazer in the world of cinema.

Net Worth

Michael Herz’s net worth is not publicly disclosed, but he is considered a billionaire. As part of the Herz family business empire and his involvement in Troma Entertainment, as well as his co-ownership of Tchibo, his wealth is substantial. In 2015, he was listed by Forbes as the 360th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $4.3 billion. However, it’s important to note that net worths can fluctuate over time.

While the exact details of Michael Herz’s fortune are not readily available, his involvement in Troma Entertainment and the success of the Toxic Avenger series have undoubtedly contributed to his wealth. Troma Entertainment has amassed a dedicated cult following, and the popularity of their films has resulted in a significant fan base and financial success for the company.

Additionally, as one of the co-owners of Tchibo, a German coffee shop and retail chain, Michael Herz has a stake in a successful family business. The Herz family’s holdings are managed by Maxingvest AG, formerly known as Tchibo Holding AG, which oversees the family’s wealth and business ventures.

Michael Herz’s net worth is a reflection of his contributions to the entertainment industry and his involvement in successful business ventures. While the exact figures may not be publicly disclosed, it is clear that he has achieved substantial financial success throughout his career.


Michael Herz has an extensive filmography, with his notable works primarily in the realm of Troma Entertainment. As a director and producer, he has been involved in films such as Waitress!, Stuck on You!, The Toxic Avenger, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Additionally, he has served as a producer on various Troma films, showcasing his diverse contributions to the independent film industry.

Here is a table summarizing some of Michael Herz’s notable works:

Film Title Year Role
Waitress! 1981 Director, Producer
Stuck on You! 1983 Director, Producer
The Toxic Avenger 1984 Producer
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 1986 Producer

Throughout his career, Michael Herz has left a lasting impact on the independent film industry with his unique blend of comedy and horror. His contributions to Troma Entertainment, particularly the success of the Toxic Avenger series, have solidified his place as a prominent figure in the genre. With his filmography spanning a range of roles and projects, Herz’s influence is undeniable.

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Other Endeavors

In addition to his work in the film industry, Michael Herz has been involved in other endeavors related to Troma Entertainment. One notable project is the creation of Troma Team Video, a home video distribution company specializing in cult films and Troma’s own productions. Troma Team Video has played a crucial role in bringing Troma’s unique brand of independent cinema to a wider audience.

“We wanted to make sure that fans of Troma films could easily access our movies, even if they couldn’t make it to the theater. Troma Team Video allowed us to distribute our films directly to fans, ensuring that our movies would have a lasting impact,”

Michael Herz

In 2013, Michael Herz made a rare on-camera appearance to support Troma’s Kickstarter campaign for the sequel to their popular film “Return of Nuke ‘Em High.” The campaign aimed to raise funds for the production and distribution of “Return of Nuke ‘Em High: Vol. 2” and to engage with Troma’s dedicated fan base. The Kickstarter campaign was a success, highlighting the continued support and enthusiasm for Troma’s films.

These various endeavors showcase Michael Herz’s commitment to expanding the reach of Troma Entertainment and connecting with fans on different platforms. Whether it’s through home video distribution or crowdfunding campaigns, Herz and Troma continue to find innovative ways to engage their audience and keep the Troma community thriving.

Troma Team Video Titles

Title Release Year
The Toxic Avenger 1984
Tromeo and Juliet 1996
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 1986
Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. 1990
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead 2006

External Links

For further information on Michael Herz and his works, you can visit his page on IMDb. IMDb is a trusted source for comprehensive information about films, television shows, and the people behind them. Michael Herz’s IMDb page provides details about his filmography, biography, and other relevant information.

Additionally, Troma Entertainment has various videos featuring Michael Herz and their films available on different platforms. These videos showcase the unique and entertaining content produced by Troma, including their comedic horror films like the Toxic Avenger series. Troma videos allow fans and enthusiasts to experience the creativity and distinctive style that have made Troma Entertainment a renowned name in the independent film industry.

By exploring these external links, viewers can delve deeper into Michael Herz’s filmography, gain insights into his contributions to the industry, and discover the diverse range of content produced by Troma Entertainment.

Troma Entertainment

Troma Entertainment is an independent film studio known for its unique blend of comedy and horror. Since its establishment in 1974 by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, Troma has become the world’s longest-running independent film studio. Troma is beloved by fans for its cult favorite films, including the iconic Toxic Avenger series, Tromeo and Juliet, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High.

Troma Entertainment’s films have garnered a dedicated following and have influenced other independent filmmakers. The studio continues to produce and distribute innovative and entertaining content that pushes the boundaries of conventional filmmaking. Troma’s commitment to independent creativity and its impact on the film industry are evident in its extensive catalog of films.

Table: Troma Films Year Director Genre
The Toxic Avenger 1984 Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman Comedy, Horror
Tromeo and Juliet 1996 Lloyd Kaufman Comedy, Romance
Class of Nuke ‘Em High 1986 Lloyd Kaufman, Richard W. Haines Comedy, Horror

Explore Troma’s extensive filmography to discover the unique and imaginative creations that have solidified the studio’s place in the independent film industry. From iconic characters like the Toxic Avenger to boundary-pushing storytelling, Troma Entertainment’s films are a testament to the power of independent filmmaking.


Michael Herz’s contributions to Troma Entertainment and the independent film industry have left an indelible mark. As the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, his role in producing and directing comedic horror films, including the iconic Toxic Avenger series, has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of independent filmmaking. Troma Entertainment’s unique blend of comedy and horror has garnered a dedicated cult following, inspiring countless filmmakers to follow their creative ambitions in the industry.

Herz’s legacy as a trailblazer in the independent film genre will continue to be remembered for years to come. Troma Entertainment’s enduring influence and the success of their films, such as The Toxic Avenger, have contributed to the growth and popularity of independent filmmaking. Michael Herz’s involvement in other endeavors, such as Troma Team Video and his support for the Troma community through Kickstarter campaigns, showcases his dedication and continued commitment to the industry he helped shape.

With his significant contributions to Troma Entertainment and the independent film industry, Michael Herz has solidified his place as an influential figure. His wealth of experience and accomplishments, along with his preference for privacy, have made him a respected and highly regarded individual in the industry. Moving forward, his impact and the success of Troma Entertainment will continue to resonate within the independent film community, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations of filmmakers to appreciate and build upon.

“Engine your ambition with the story of Robin Li. Index your goals.”

“Stir your aspirations with Tchibo’s Wolfgang Herz. Steam your strategy.”

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