Gilbert “Gil” Cates (June 6, 1934 – October 31, 2011), born Gilbert Katz, was an Award winning American film director and television producer, director of the Geffen Playhouse, and founding dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. He was probably best known for the annual Academy Award shows he produced 14 times between 1990 and 2008.
Cates was born Gilbert Katz in New York City, the son of Jewish parents Nina (née Peltzman) and Nathan Katz, who was a dress manufacturer. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, and majored at Syracuse University. According to the Jewish Journal, Cates stumbled into his profession by accident: As a pre-med student at Syracuse University, he was in the fencing team and was asked to instruct student actors in a production of Richard III on how to handle swords. He was so taken by the experience that he changed his major to theater.
Cates was a member of the Reform Jewish Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The Jewish Journal quotes him as saying that he only attended services on the High Holy Days, but felt “very proud to be Jewish”.
Cates was first married to Jane Betty Dubin and then to gynecologist Judith Reichman. He had four children from his first and two stepchildren from his second marriage, and five grandchildren. He was the younger brother of Joseph Cates, also a director and producer, and the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates.
OH GOD, BOOK TWO (1980)
Cates was a producing director and president of the board at the Geffen Playhouse. He directed a number of feature films including I Never Sang for My Father (1970), and Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973), both nominated for Oscars, Oh, God! Book II (1980) and The Last Married Couple in America (1980). He also produced and directed Broadway and off-Broadway plays, including I Never Sang for My Father and You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running.
Cates is credited with re-energizing the Academy Awards shows he produced 14 times between 1990 and 2008, recruiting Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart as hosts. He served on the Academy's Board of Governors from 1984 to 1993, winning an Emmy in 1991 for the 63rd annual Oscars. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005. From 1983 to 1987 he served as president of the Directors Guild of America. On April 8, 1991 he became dean of UCLA's newly combined School of Theater, Film and Television, a post he held until 1998, and was on the faculty of the school as a professor. In 2005 Cates received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Gilbert Cates died in Los Angeles on October 31, 2011 at age 77. He is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Culver City, California.
1.^ Johnson, Reed; King, Susan (November 1, 2011). "Gil Cates: Consummate Hollywood professional." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
2.^ Berrin, Danielle (November 1, 2011). "Gil Cates, longtime Oscar producer, dead at 77." JewishJournal.com. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
3.^ Champlin, Charles (February 26, 1991). "Another Year, Another Oscar Strategy - Movies: Gilbert Cates finds a different set of circumstances for this year's Academy Awards, his second as producer of the annual awards show." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 14, 2009. "He started fencing at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and, he says, you spent three months of exercise just getting in shape to fence."
4.^ "Gilbert Cates Biography (1934-)." Filmreference.com. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
5.^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (November 1, 2011). "Oscar Producer Gilbert Cates Dead at 77." The Wrap. Retrieved November 8, 2011.