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Gil Cates, Vet Oscar Producer & UCLA Film School Founder Dead at 77

Gil Cates, Vet Oscar Producer & UCLA Film School Founder Dead at 77

Long time Oscars producer Gilbert Cates has passed away. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in which Gates was the Founding Dean, said he died Monday, October 31 at age 77.

Cates produced the Academy Awards(R) 14 times between 1990 and 2008, more than any other individual. Additionally he served three terms as governor of the Academy’s Directors Branch as well as a board member since 2002. He also was vice president with the organization from 2003 – 2005.

Cates received multiple Emmy nominations for his Oscar work in addition to honors from the Directors Guild of America where he received an Honorary Life Member Award in 1991 and the President’s Award in 2005. That same year, he received the Board of Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, a Producers Guild nod for his 2005 Oscar telcast and a Filmmaker Award by the Cinema Audio Society in 2007.

In addition to his producer credits with the Oscars, Cates produced dozens of television movies beginning in the ’60s through the 2000s as well as Broadway and off-Broadway plays. Cates served aas dean of the UCLA School fo Theater, Film and Television from 1990 to 1998 and was on the school’s faculty as professor.

The school website said that emergency personnel were called to the campus Monday afternoon, but they were not able to revive him.

Reaction from AMPAS:

“Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy,” said Academy President Tom Sherak. “He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar(R) history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family.”

Reaction from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television:

“Our entire TFT community is overwhelmingly saddened by the loss of our beloved mentor, colleague and friend,” said Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “Today we mourn our great loss but also celebrate Gil’s extraordinary vision and countless contributions, not only to TFT as founding dean and distinguished professor but to the entertainment and performing arts industries and the education of our students, who benefited from his remarkable talent, insights, generosity, experience and wisdom. Our deepest condolences and love go out to Gil’s beloved family at this very difficult time.”

Statements from the Directors Guild of America:

With great sadness and regret, the Directors Guild of America mourns the passing of one of our beloved friends and foremost leaders – Gil Cates.

Statement from DGA President Taylor Hackford:

“There are few people in the history of the Guild who have matched Gil’s vision and influence on the organization and our industry. There was no greater champion of the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and no truer friend to the membership, board and staff of the DGA. For more than fifty years, Gil has served the Guild — as president, as secretary-treasurer, as negotiations chair. It’s impossible to think of a single issue debated, program launched or battle fought on behalf of us all that didn’t have his special touch in its crafting.

“Gil Cates embodied this Guild. Through his decades of service, he guided the Guild gently and charismatically and with great wisdom, and perhaps more importantly, he established what it meant to be a leader of this organization and the entertainment community. He was a fierce friend, an even fiercer negotiator and somebody you always hoped was on your side but respected even if he wasn’t. Gil was one of the lights of this organization and one of the central reasons that I became involved in Guild service. From the time I joined the Western Directors Council in 1996, Gil was a mentor to me, encouraging me to take leadership responsibility and providing guidance all along the way. I was honored to serve with him for these many years and will miss him greatly.”

Statement from DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth:

“Gil often said that the Guild was one of the biggest loves of his life, and he showed it every day for more than 50 years. He was devoted to us, and we to him, and we are all devastated by his loss. Through all these years, we relied on his humor, his wisdom and his ability to cut to the heart of the matter in that unique way he had that always helped everybody understand what was truly important.

“His visionary leadership went far beyond the Guild. For 30 years, Gil’s strong leadership, foresight, love for the Guild, the industry and sense of the future, set the path for hundreds of thousands of people. He was one of the most important figures in our industry. Gil was my close friend and my partner as we sat side by side in many negotiations. I will miss him immensely. My thoughts are with his wife Judy, his family and the many people who were so fortunate to have him in their lives, and I count myself among them.”

DGA Service:

Cates joined the DGA in 1960 when the Radio and Television Directors Guild, of which he was a member, merged with the Screen Directors Guild to form the modern Directors Guild of America. Cates was elected to the National Board in 1975 and served as President from 1983-1987 and as Secretary-Treasurer from 1997 until today. He chaired the Negotiations Committee for the the Guild’s 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011 contract negotiations and served on the Western Directors Council for more than 20 years. For his decades of extraordinary service to the Guild and its membership, the Guild recognized Cates with the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 1989, the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in 1991 and the President’s Award in 2005.

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