David Picker, Studio Chief Who Brought Bond, The Beatles and Steve Martin to the Movies, Dies at 87
In 1969, at just 38, Picker moved toward becoming president and COO of United Artists; he later ran Paramount and Columbia.
David V. Picker, who filled in as the head of United Artists, Paramount and Columbia over in excess of 50 years in the film business, died Saturday night after succumbing to colon cancer at his home in New York, his long-lasting friend and previous UA partner Kathie Berlin revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 87.
Picker was born in New York on May 14, 1931 — and into the movie business. His granddad, likewise named David V. Picker, ran a little chain of theaters that he in the end sold to Loews, the organization for which his dad, Eugene Picker, at that point found a new line of work booking theaters, which empowered the youthful Picker to see a film for free at virtually any theater in the Big Apple, a privilege he took full advantage of.
In particular, his uncle was Arnold Picker, who turned into an accomplice and official vp universal dissemination at UA in 1951, that year the old studio was become alive once again by a couple of lawyers, Arthur B. Krim and Robert Benjamin, who, by bankrolling free producers and after that avoiding their way amid the filmmaking procedure, rapidly started pulling in top talent and raking in profits.
In 1956, having graduated from Dartmouth College and served in the U.S. Armed force, Picker found a new job at UA in the advertising and publicity department. After two years, he was made associate to head of production Max Youngstein, and when Youngstein left the organization in 1962, Picker was raised to his position. Any inquiries regarding the job that nepotism had played in Picker’s fast climb at the organization were immediately hushed by his significant contributions in his new role.
Looking for a property for Alfred Hitchcock, he procured the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond books and battled for Sean Connery to star in the main adjustment, 1962’s Dr. No, which was eventually coordinated by Terence Young and produced an establishment that keeps on illustration masses — and bear the UA name — to this day.
The main film that Picker suggested UA’s accomplices finance from scratch, Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones, a British creation, turned into a giant hit and was granted the best picture Oscar, winding up just the second non-American film to gain that high respect, 24 years after the first. (Richardson, who also produced the film, could not attend the ceremony, so on his behalf Picker accepted the statuette from Frank Sinatra.)
What’s more, paying special mind to the United Artists Records and Music Publishing division, Picker suggested that the organization make a low-spending narrative around a youthful British band that had awed him, The Beatles. 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night, coordinated by Richard Lester, demonstrated a blockbuster and detonated the Fab Four all around the globe. UA and The Beatles reteamed on 1965’s Help! also, 1968’s The Yellow Submarine.
UA, be that as it may, fell upon harsh occasions because of a keep running of enormous spending flops, including 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told and 1966’s Hawaii, causing rearranging in the top positions. In June 1969, at only 38, Picker was made president and COO of UA, some portion of a rush of youthful officials in their thirties — others including Richard Zanuck, Robert Evans and Jay Kanter — who expected positions of immense power in Hollywood as the old moguls began retiring and dying in the 1960s and 1970s.
Inside a year, the company made — at the encouraging of Picker’s colleague, a youthful Larry Kramer — Women in Love, for which Glenda Jackson won a best performing artist Oscar; and Midnight Cowboy, which turned into the primary X-evaluated film at any point granted the best picture Oscar. Amid Picker’s rule, UA likewise discharged John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1973).
Picker’s spell as an individual maker was productive — it yielded Bob Fosse’s Lenny (1974), among others — yet was brief, as he got down to business as Paramount’s head of generation in 1976, under Barry Diller. Picker’s years at Hollywood’s most established studio — where he took on a youthful collaborator by the name of Jeffrey Katzenberg — were turbulent, as Diller was centered around structure building movies around stars, whereas Picker, conditioned by his years at UA, always prioritized directors and material. Still, it was Picker who greenlighted Randal Kleiser’s Grease (1978) and Robert Redford’s Ordinary People (1980), the latter of which was awarded the best picture Oscar.
Picker left Paramount in 1979, coming back to autonomous creating with Carl Reiner’s The Jerk (1979), which transformed entertainer Steve Martin into a movie star. He at that point quickly filled in as leader of highlight films at Lorimar Productions, where his yield incorporated another parody great, Hal Ashby’s Being There (1979); years sooner, Picker had given the approval for Ashby, a film editor, to make his directorial debut with The Landlord (1970).
In 1985, Picker came back to the official suite, procured by Columbia Pictures to fill in as president of production alongside CEO David Puttnam. Picker, who headed to work each day in his station wagon, remained at work for only 30 months, amid which he rejoined with Bertolucci to make The Last Emperor (1987), which proceeded to win the best picture Oscar, but also taking some of the blame for the spectacular failure of Elaine May’s Ishtar (1987), which had been greenlighted by his predecessor.
In his later years, Picker proceeded to sporadically fill in as an autonomous maker,independent producer, with credits including The Appointments of Dennis Jennings (1988), which was awarded an Oscar for best live-action short, and Nicholas Hytner’s The Crucible (1996), starring Daniel Day-Lewis. He served for several years as president of Hallmark Entertainment Productions Worldwide, tasked with ushering the company into the features business, and earning Emmy nominations as a producer of the company’s The Temptations (1998) and P.T. Barnum (1999). He was the Producers Guild of America’s East Coast chairman from 2004 through 2008. He was presented with The Producer Award at the Gotham Awards in 1998 and the Charles Fitzsimmons Award at the PGA Awards in 2008. And his memoir, Musts, Maybes and Nevers: A Book About the Movies, was published in 2013.
Picker is survived by his wife, the photographer Sandra Lyn Jetton Picker, and his sister, Jean Picker Firstenberg, the former president and CEO of the American Film Institute. He was previously married to — and divorced from — Caryl Schlossman, with whom he had two children, Caryn Picker and Pamela Lee Picker; and Nessa Hyams.