November 2nd, 2011
05:14 PM ET
The entertainment industry mourned Tuesday as news that legendary film and TV producer and director Gil Cates passed away at the age of 77 on October 31.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cates collapsed in a UCLA parking lot on Monday evening. The paper reports that the cause of death was being investigated, but appeared to be from natural causes.
Cates accomplished a long list of achievements, including producing the Academy Awards more than any other producer in the ceremony's history.
Cates oversaw the awards show 14 times, and under his watch brought on successful hosts like Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, according to a statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Martin tweeted about Cates passing Tuesday, writing, "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."
Academy president Tom Sherak says in a statement, “Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy. He was a consummate professional who 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.”
The 77-year-old Emmy winner was also president of the Directors Guild of America for two terms; founder and producing director of the Geffen Playhouse, in addition to having served as a founder, professor and dean for UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.
A statement from a Geffen Playhouse rep says Cates was not only the theater's founder, but also "our leader and our heart." The Geffen's Chairman of the Board Frank Mancuso adds, “Gil has always referred to the staff of the Geffen Playhouse as his second family, and it is as a family that we mourn this tremendous loss. Gil built this theater and he will forever be at the center of it – we honor his life by continuing the fulfillment of his dream. As my dear friend Gil would no doubt say ‘onward and upward with the arts.’”
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