Longtime Paramount producer A.C. Lyles has died. His assistant Pam Gibson tells the LA Times that Lyles died Friday night at his Los Angeles home. He was 95. Lyles was associated with Paramount for over 85 years, beginning at the age of 10 when he handed out fliers for a Paramount-owned theater in his hometome of Jacksonville, FL. He eventually made his way to Hollywood, getting a job in the Paramount mail room. He went on to become a studio publicist and producer best known for several B westerns in the 1960s including Young Fury and Waco. He continued to work as a producer into his 80s and also served as an unofficial goodwill ambassador for Paramount. He also was a longtime friend of Ronald Reagan; in 1983 the president appointed Lyles to be a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Private Sector Initiatives. Most recently Lyles worked on HBO’s Deadwood. UPDATE: Paramount’s Brad Grey sent this memo around to Paramount’s staffers announcing Lyes’ passing:
To: Paramount Employees
From: Brad Grey
It is with deep sadness I share the news that A.C. Lyles passed away this past Friday evening. A true institution at Paramount, A.C. was a man of great talent and elegance, and a legend in our industry.
Proud to be referred to as “Mr. Paramount,” A.C. was the longest serving employee in our studio’s history and a direct link to one of Hollywood’s most storied eras. For a remarkable 85 years, A.C. made Paramount his home, made us his family and always took a moment to share a story that reminded us just how fortunate we are to do the work that we do here.
It was often noted that A.C. had the shortest resume in Hollywood history: Paramount 1928 – 2013. He began his career at Paramount at the age of 10 distributing bumper stickers and handbills for Paramount’s Florida Theater. As a teenager, A.C. wrote a letter every Sunday for years to Adolf Zukor, founder and head of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, until he secured a job at the studio.
It was the era of Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope. A.C. made friends with them all and rose quickly. By the age of 19, A.C. became Publicity Director and worked on over 70 pictures. He then moved onto producing, first as an associate producer on The Mountain, released in 1954, and then as a full producer Short Cut to Hell, released in 1957. He went on to produce nine episodes of the TV show Rawhide, and a slate of westerns for Paramount in the 1960s, through his own production company. His most recent work was as Consulting Producer on the HBO TV series Deadwood, created by David Milch.
Two years ago, when asked during an interview about the longevity of his career and continuing to serve as Paramount’s Ambassador of Good Will, A.C. said: “I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s just a great, great life.” It will be hard to imagine our lot without A.C.
Our thoughts and prayers are with A.C.’s wife, Martha, during this time.
(In lieu of flowers, his family is requesting donations be made to the MPTF Country House Fund.)