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Tom Sherak Dead: Former Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences President Dies At 68

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11:  Tom Sherak,  president of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), attends the Official Unveiling Of The New Dolby Theatre on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Tom Sherak, president of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), attends the Official Unveiling Of The New Dolby Theatre on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak has died after a 12-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 68.

A film marketing and distribution executive, Sherak died Tuesday surrounded by family at his home in Calabasas, Calif. "Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly," the Sherak family said in a statement released by the academy.

Sherak received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just hours before his death but he was too ill to attend.

Sherak, who served as the head of the academy from 2009-2012, spent 17 years at 20th Century Fox, where he became the domestic film group chairman. He also was an executive at Revolution Studios and Paramount Pictures.

Sherak worked on such blockbusters as "Titanic," ''Die Hard," ''Wall Street," ''Independence Day" and "Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace."

Last fall, Sherak was appointed Los Angeles film czar to help bring runaway production back to the city. He was also responsible for completing a deal for the academy's new film museum with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum is tentatively set to open in 2017.

A champion of change, Sherak expanded the number of best picture Oscar nominees from five to 10 and was instrumental in bringing in younger academy members and making the group more diverse.

"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," said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement. "He was truly larger than life, and he will be missed."

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