Tom Sherak, a studio marketing and distribution executive who was head of the Academy of Motion Pictures Art & Sciences from 2009 to 2012, has lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was 68. Sherak passed away on Tuesday, January 28 at his home in Calabasas, Calif. According to a statement released by his family, Sherak was "surrounded by his family giving him hugs, kisses, and love."
"Tom is, was and always will be, our loving husband, daddy, papa, brother, friend and 'Go to Guy.' He blessed this earth for 68 incredible years, and he will be missed every single day," the statement continued. "Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew first hand the power of his love. He gave everything he had to help others, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly. We love him so very much."
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson also released a statement following the sad news. "In the more than 30 years I've known Tom, his passionate support of and excitement about the motion picture business, the Academy, his family and friends never wavered," Isaacs said. Hudson, meanwhile, called Sherak "a huge influence" in the academy.
In addition to executives from the Academy, some stars paid tribute on Twitter. "Today we lost a great man Tom Sherak. Aside from being one if the most important men in Hollywood he was an amazing person. We miss you," Sarah Michelle Gellar wrote. Actor Zachary Levi tweeted, "My love & condolences go out to the family of Tom Sherak. He was a bright light in the crazy world of Hollywood, and will be missed dearly."
Sherak graduated from New York City Community College with a degree in marketing. He then worked in Wall Street, before joining Paramount Pictures in 1970 and other companies which included General Cinema and Fox. In September, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Sherak as the city's first "film czar." With a $1 salary, his task was to boost film and TV production in Hollywood.
Sherak is survived by his wife of more than 45 years, Madeleine, a son William as well as daughters Melissa and Barbara.