In Memoriam: Gil Cates 1934-2011

DGA Quarterly Summer 2011 DGA Interview Gil Cates

November 1, 2011

Statements from DGA President Taylor Hackford and National Executive Director Jay D. Roth on the Passing of Gil Cates

With great sadness and regret, the Directors Guild of America mourns the passing of one of our beloved friends and foremost leaders - Gil Cates. 

Statement from President Taylor Hackford:

"There are few people in the history of the Guild who have matched Gil's vision and influence on the organization and our industry.  There was no greater champion of the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and no truer friend to the membership, board and staff of the DGA.  For more than fifty years, Gil has served the Guild -- as president, as secretary-treasurer, as negotiations chair.  It's impossible to think of a single issue debated, program launched or battle fought on behalf of us all that didn't have his special touch in its crafting. 

"Gil Cates embodied this Guild.  Through his decades of service, he guided the Guild gently and charismatically and with great wisdom, and perhaps more importantly, he established what it meant to be a leader of this organization and the entertainment community.  He was a fierce friend, an even fiercer negotiator and somebody you always hoped was on your side but respected even if he wasn't.  Gil was one of the lights of this organization and one of the central reasons that I became involved in Guild service.  From the time I joined the Western Directors Council in 1996, Gil was a mentor to me, encouraging me to take leadership responsibility and providing guidance all along the way.  I was honored to serve with him for these many years and will miss him greatly."   

Statement from National Executive Director Jay D. Roth:

"Gil often said that the Guild was one of the biggest loves of his life, and he showed it every day for more than 50 years.  He was devoted to us, and we to him, and we are all devastated by his loss.  Through all these years, we relied on his humor, his wisdom and his ability to cut to the heart of the matter in that unique way he had that always helped everybody understand what was truly important. 

"His visionary leadership went far beyond the Guild. For 30 years, Gil's strong leadership, foresight, love for the Guild, the industry and sense of the future, set the path for hundreds of thousands of people.  He was one of the most important figures in our industry.  Gil was my close friend and my partner as we sat side by side in many negotiations.  I will miss him immensely.  My thoughts are with his wife Judy, his family and the many people who were so fortunate to have him in their lives, and I count myself among them." 

DGA Service:

Cates joined the DGA in 1960 when the Radio and Television Directors Guild, of which he was a member, merged with the Screen Directors Guild to form the modern Directors Guild of America.  Cates was elected to the National Board in 1975 and served as President from 1983-1987 and as Secretary-Treasurer from 1997 until today.  He chaired the Negotiations Committee for the Guild's 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011 contract negotiations and served on the Western Directors Council for more than 30 years.

For his decades of extraordinary service to the Guild and its membership, the Guild recognized Cates with the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 1989, the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in 1991 and the President's Award in 2005.

Directorial Highlights:

Collected Stories (2002) • Confessions: Two Faces of Evil (1994) • Absolute Strangers (1991) • Call Me Anna* (1990) • Do You Know the Muffin Man? (1989) • My First Love (1988) • Consenting Adult (1985) • Hobson's Choice (1983) • Oh, God! Book II (1980) • The Promise (1979) • Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye (1977) • After the Fall (1974) • Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973) • To All My Friends on Shore (1972) • I Never Sang for My Father (1970) • Reach for the Stars (1967) • Rings Around the World (1966) • World's Fair Spectacular (1965) • Picture This (1963) • Camouflage (1961) •  and various quiz and game shows on early television as a member of the Radio & Television Directors Guild • 

* DGA Movies for Television Award Nominee

The Cates family has requested that donations may be made in Gil's name to:

Lily Bedrossian -
Director of Media Relations
(310) 289-5334
Gil Cates Visual History Interview

Gil Cates recounts to his son and interviewer Gil Cates, Jr. his experiences as a feature film director, Dean of UCLA's Theater, Film, and Television Program, and President of the DGA.

To Serve and Protect

Through changing times, for more than 50 years Gil Cates has been a steadying force and voice of reason in the Directors Guild.