Born William Norton Panzer in New York City, he attended Princeton and the New York University Film School. In 1976, he moved to Los Angeles where he partnered with Peter Davis to found Davis-Panzer Productions.

Together they produced more than twenty films, including Death Collector in 1976, The Osterman Weekend in 1983, and Freeway in 1988, but perhaps most significantly, Highlander in 1986.

Highlander led to a franchise of sequels and a television series which ran for six season. He served as Executive Producer for the series and contributed to screenplays for three Highlander movies. Highlander: The Series was nominated three times for the Gemini Awards and once for a Saturn Award.

In 2007 he died as a result of a head injury.  Fans arranged for a star in the International Star Registry to be dedicated to him.