Oscar Producer Gil Cates Found Dead

The 77-year-old producer was the first to hire Billy Crystal

Gil Cates, who produced the Academy Awards telecast 14 times between the years 1990 and 2008, was reportedly found dead today in Los Angeles. He was 77 years old.

According to reports, Cates' body was discovered in his car in a UCLA parking structure. Although the Los Angeles County coroner has not yet determined the cause of death, Cates did undergo heart surgery earlier this month.

Cates, who is the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates, was the first to hire host Billy Crystal in 1990, and he produced all but two of Crystal's eight Oscar gigs. He was also the man who hired Steve Martin, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, and David Letterman. The 2008 Stewart show was Cates' last.

Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, released a statement confirming Cates' passing.

"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," said Schwartz.

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."

Cates also served two terms as president of the Director's Guild of America. He is survived by his wife, Judith, four children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.

Selected Reading: Reuters, Hollywood Reporter, Washington Post

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