Hollywood is mourning the lost of one of its notable members. Gilbert Cates, the man who served as the lead producer of the Academy Awards telecast for a record 14 times, died on Monday, October 31, evening at the age of 77, and the likes of Steven Spielberg and Annette Bening have paid tribute to the veteran director-producer.
"No one may ever again achieve what Gil Cates achieved in his contributions to the success of the Motion Picture Academy and the Directors Guild," Spielberg said in a statement. "In producing 14 Oscar shows for the Academy and leading the Directors Guild through challenging times and negotiations, he set a remarkable standard for dedication and excellence."
Spielberg further described the two-term president of the Directors Guild of America as "the most like person I knew." The "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" director added, "[he] will be missed by all who knew him as a proud member of our industry and a great pal to everyone."
Bening, in the meantime, remembered Gil as "one of the most enthusiastic, active, involved men I have ever known in show business." She told Los Angeles Times, "As much as he loved showbiz, our rambling conversations inevitably turned to family. The only time I ever heard him brag was about his kids, his grandkids, and his remarkable wife, Judy."
The 53-year-old actress, who was last seen in "The Kids Are All Right" continued to offer her condolences, "My heart goes out to them." She added, "A big presence in our community is gone, but Gil's inspiring love of work and community, evidenced especially at UCLA and the Geffen theater, lives on."
Also releasing a statement about Gil's passing was Academy president Tom Sherak. "Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy," he said. "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."
MPAA president Chris Dodd said in his statement, "Gil Cates has been one of our Hollywood greats - always visionary, entrepreneurial and generous." Having pointed out the late filmmaker's achievements which include being Dean of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, he noted, "We've lost a great man today, but Gil Cates shall always remain present in our hearts and in our memories."
Gil was found collapsed in a parking lot on the campus of UCLA Monday evening. According to a statement from the Los Angeles university, emergency medical personnel responded to a call on campus at about 5:50 P.M., but they were unable to revive the "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" director. The Los Angeles County coroner is investigating his death.
Gil is survived by his wife, Judith Reichman; three sons, David, Jonathan and Gil Jr.; a daughter, Melissa; two stepdaughters, Anat and Ronit Reichman; and four grandchildren. His "Today" show gynecologist wife reportedly was in Tel Aviv at the time of his death.