Gilbert Cates, the man responsible for producing 14 Oscar ceremonies over nearly two decades, died Monday (Oct. 31) at age 77.
According to Reuters, Cates’ body was discovered in a UCLA parking lot on Halloween night. He had undergone heart surgery earlier in October. The Los Angeles County coroner is investigating the cause of death.
Cates was the Academy Awards’ producer for 14 ceremonies between 1990 and 2008. He was responsible for, among other things, creating the now-iconic In Memoriam segment.
He also directed Oscar-nominated films such as “I Never Sang for My Father” and “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams,” along with numerous made-for-TV movies.
Three-time Oscar host Steve Martin tweeted Tuesday, “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.”
“Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy,” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak says in a statement. “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.”
Cates served as the dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television from 1990-1998, and was president of the Directors Guild of America for four years in the ’80s. He won an Emmy in 1991 for the 64th annual Oscars, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cates was the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates.