Prolific television producer/executive David Gerber, whose wide-ranging career included the award-winning “George Washington” miniseries and the stylistic 80s series drama “thirtysomething,” died Saturday of heart failure at University of Southern California Medical Center. He was 86.
Gerber was an Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody award-winning producer and studio executive lauded for his work in promoting multiracial projects. He was responsible for numerous groundbreaking television series, television movies, and miniseries in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Emmy-winning “Police Story” and “Police Woman,” the later considered the first successful genre series with a female lead. His “That’s My Mama,” was one of the first comedy series featuring a full cast of African American actors.
His last television movie was the 2006 six-Emmy nominated “Flight 93” about terrorist hijacked United Airlines flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania field on Sept 11, 2001.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Gerber served in World War II and was shot down over Germany. He served as a prisoner of war and walking across the country after liberation. He moved to California after the war, and used the G.I Bill to earn a bachelor of arts degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
He began his career as a TV supervisor at BBD&O Ad Agency in New York, then worked as an agent for Famous Artists packaging TV shows and later at General Artists Corp. He eventually held a succession of senior executive roles at several Hollywood studios, including Twentieth Century-Fox Television, Columbia Pictures Television and MGM Worldwide Television Group. He formed his first independent production company in 1972.
Gerber has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and honored with the Caucus of Producers, Writers & Directors Lifetime Achievement, NAACP and Nosotros for his depiction of ethnic cultures on television, and Lifetime Achievements from the Casting Society of America and the Publicists Guild.
Gerber’s sole immediate survivor is 39 years, actress Laraine Stephens of Los Angeles. Funeral services will be private, with an industry memorial to be organized. Memorials may be sent to: The David and Laraine Gerber Endowment Fund at University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California 95211; The USC Cardiac Electrophysiology Service, c/o Leslie A. Saxon, MD, 1510 San Pablo Street, Suite 22, Los Angeles 90033; House Ear Clinic, 2100 W. Third St., Los Angeles 90057, or any animal rescue charity of choice.
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