David Picker, Launched Movie Career of Steve Martin, and the Beatles Dies

David Picker who at 38 years old became the president of United Artists and later ran Columbia, Lorimar, and Paramount Pictures died on April 21, 2019, from colon cancer. He was 87 years old.

Kathie Berlin, a former United Artists colleague, confirmed the news.

Picker was known for producing iconic movies such as the Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night,” Steve Martin’s “The Jerk,” and he launched the James Bond Franchise.

Many of the stars in Hollywood worked as his assistant including Larry Kramer, Bonnie Arnold, Jonathan Demme, Tom Rothman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mark Gordon, and Larry Mark.

In 1956 he worked for United Artists in the advertising and publicity department. He became an assistant to the studio’s president and then managed United Artists Records. In 1963, he brought to the company the movie “Tom Jones.” It went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Director and Picture.

In 1970, he became United Artists’ CEO. He signed a deal with Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman acquired the James Bond series. He also signed the Beatles to a deal for three-pictures and released “Help!” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” H

He also brought to United Artists “Last Tango in Paris,” “Midnight Cowboy,” and introduced to the company Woody Alan, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut, Sergio Leone, and Louis Malle.

Picker left United Artists and formed in 1973 Two Roads Productions, which produced Academy Award-nominated films “Juggernaut” and “Lenny.”

Later in his life, he became Paramount’s President of Motion Pictures and brought to the company classic movies including “Grease,” “Ordinary People,” and “Saturday Night Fever.”

In 1979 he became an independent producer working with Steve Martin on multiple films including “The Jerk,” “The Man With Two Brains,” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.”

He briefly worked at Lorimar Productions where he worked on “Being There” and “The Landlord.”

Returning to Columbia, he added to his resume “Punch Line,” “School Daze,” and “True Believer.”

Picker worked independently in the ’80s and ’90s working on “Beat Street” with Harry Belafonte, and “Stella” with Bette Midler. Other movie credits include “The Crucible,” and “The Saint of Fort Washington.”

Picker’s wife Sandra Lyn Jetton Picker survives him, and his previous wife Caryl Schlossman, and children Pamela Lee Picker, Caryn Picker, and Nessa Hyams.

Written by Barbara Sobel


The Hollywood Reporter: David Picker, Studio Chief Who Brought Bond, The Beatles and Steve Martin to the Movies, Dies at 87
Deadline: David Picker: David Picker Dies: Former President Of United Artists, Paramount And Columbia Was 87
Variety: David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

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