David Gerber, a seminal figure in American and international television for a half-century as a producer, studio executive, industry statesman and philanthropist, died Saturday at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. He was 86.
Gerber earned an Emmy (and six other Emmy noms), a Golden Globe, a Peabody Award and the Christopher Award as well as honors from the American Film Institute, the Caucus of Producers, Writers and Directors and others by taking on serious, often controversial subjects. He was a pioneer of multiracial programming with such series as "Police Story," "Batman," "Room 222," "thirtysomething," "In the Heat of the Night" and dozens of TV movies, including his last longform, the critically acclaimed "Flight 93" in 2006.
As an executive, Gerber was credited with revitalizing two studios, Columbia Pictures Television in the late 1970s and MGM Television during his 1986-92 stint there.
A Brooklyn native, Gerber served in World War II in the U.S. Air Corps and was shot down over Germany, where he was held as a prisioner of war for 13 months.
He began his career at the BBD&O Ad Agency in New York as a TV supervisor, then worked as an agent for Famous Artists packaging TV shows and then at General Artists Corp. Gerber moved into the executive ranks with 20th Century Fox and in 1972 formed his first independent company.
His impressive list of movies of the week included "Finding the Way Home" (1991) with George C. Scott, "Inherit the Wind" (1999) starring Jason Robards, two "Dirty Dozen" movies.
Gerber is survived by his wife, Laraine, who suggests donations be made to the David and Laraine Gerber Endowment Fund at University of the Pacific; the USC Cardiac Electrophysiology Service; the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles; or any animal rescue charity.
Funeral services will be private, and an industry memorial is in the works.
Born: 1923, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 1/2/2009, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
David Gerber's westerns - producer:
Prudence and the Chief (TV) - 1970
Cade's County (TV) - 1971-1972
The Quest (TV) - 1976
The Quest: The Longest Drive (TV) - 1976
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (TV) - 1982-1983