11/01/2011 02:43 pm ET Updated Jan 01, 2012

Gilbert Cates Dies: Oscar, Film And TV Producer Body Found In UCLA Parking Lot (VIDEO)

Gilbert Cates, long-time producer of film, TV, theater and the Academy Awards, was found dead at 77 last night in a UCLA parking lot. While the cause of death is unknown, Cates underwent heart surgery earlier this month, TMZ reports.

Cates produced a record 14 broadcasts of the Academy Awards over the course of 18 years, from 1990 to 2008. In 2006, he was quoted as saying, "If you want a sense of what America is like, you'll watch the Oscars."

As a film producer, some of his most well-known features include "I Never Sang for My Father" (1970), "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" (1973), "Oh, God! Book II" (1980) and "The Last Married Couple in America" (1980).

In addition, the Hollywood Reporter notes that Cates was a daring TV producer, often covering subjects that were taboo at the time. Consenting Adult, which he directed in 1984, covered homosexuality and Do You Know the Muffin Man?, which he directed in 1989, focused on child molestation; both programs received Emmy nominations.

In the early years of his career, Cates produced and directed many Broadway plays; most recently, he directed "A Picasso" at the Geffen Playhouse. Highly respected in the world of theater, Cates was producing director of the Geffen Playhouse and founder and former dean of the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television.

Cates is also the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates who starred in 1982's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

In the video below from 2007, Cates speaks about producing the Oscars and reflects on some of his most memorable moments.


CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story,
the 1973 film "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" was mislabeled as two
separate movies.