A longtime Hollywood executive who was the head of United Artists, Paramount and Columbia during his 50-year career has died. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David V. Picker died Saturday night from colon cancer.
Picker reportedly died at his home in New York. He was 87.
THR credits Picker with bringing James Bond, the Beatles and Steve Martin to the movies. He was just 38 years old when he became president and chief operating officer of United Artists in 1969, and later ran both Paramount and Columbia.
“In 1956, having graduated from Dartmouth College and served in the U.S. Army, Picker got a job at UA in the advertising and publicity department,” THR reports. “Two years later, he was made assistant to head of production Max Youngstein, and when Youngstein left the company in 1962, Picker was elevated to his position.”
He immediately began to make major contributions to the company’s success.
“Seeking a property for Alfred Hitchcock, he acquired the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and fought for Sean Connery to star in the first adaptation, 1962’s ‘Dr. No,’ which was ultimately directed by Terence Young and spawned a franchise that continues to draw masses — and bear the UA name — to this day,” THR notes.
Picker later recommended that UA make “a low-budget documentary” about the young British band the Beatles, THR reports. The project became 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night.”
After leaving Paramount in 1979, Picker returned to independent producing with Carl Reiner’s “The Jerk,” which made a movie star of Steve Martin.
Here’s a short clip of Picker talking about getting the Beatles project started …