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Oscar producer Gilbert Cates found dead at 77


09:12, November 02, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Gilbert Cates, the U.S. film and stage director who produced a record 14 Academy Award shows, was found dead Monday night. He was 77.

The famous producer was found collapsed in his car in a UCLA parking structure at about 6:30 p.m., a coroner's investigator said. The Los Angeles Coroner's Office is investigating the cause of the death.

Cates began producing the annual Oscar telecast in 1990, the same year he became the founding dean of UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television until he ended his tenure in 1998. He produced the latest Oscar broadcast in 2008.

"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 education of our students, who benefited from his remarkable talent, insights, generosity, experience and wisdom," Teri Schwartz, the current dean said.

Cates was also active with the Directors Guild of America, serving two terms as its president from 1983 through 1987. He was treasurer-secretary when he died.

He also founded the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood near Los Angeles. He was the producing director when he died.

The producer "gave the academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family," academy President Tom Sherak said in a statement.

Former host Martin later tweeted: "So sorry to hear Gil Cates has died. He helmed two Oscar shows I hosted. He was delightful, wise, canny and unperturbed. A great fellow."

The New York City native was credited for revamping the Oscar telecasts, tapping comedians such as Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and David Letterman to host. He was the first to hire Crystal for Oscar host gig in 1990.

Cates won an Emmy for producing the 63rd Academy Awards in March 1991.

His career spanned film, television and theater. His film credits included feature films "I Never Sang for My Father" ( 1970), which received three Academy Award nominations, and "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams"(1973), a drama which got two nominations -- Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

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