Earl Lestz, a former executive at Paramount Pictures and one of Hollywood’s greatest boosters, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.
Lestz served as president of the Studio Group at Paramount for over 21 years until his retirement in 2004, overseeing its real estate, special events, capital expenditures, post-production facilities, backlot operations and government relations. Under his leadership, Paramount’s 63-acre Hollywood lot underwent major renovations and development, adding over 1.3 million square feet of new facilities, including office buildings, parking structures, videotape and post-production facilities, and backlot renovation. Major infrastructure upgrades for communications, domestic water, electrical and fiber-optic systems were also completed, including the addition of over three acres of parks and landscaping. He was also instrumental in developing the first studio child care center.
A voting member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the past 25 years, he was honored for his service to Hollywood and the entertainment industry with a star on the Walk of Fame, located at the entrance to the Dolby Theater.
He served on the board – and as chairman – of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and was a former chair of the Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. He also served, for 26 years, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Committee, and on the advisory board of the Hollywood Arts Council.
Since 2004, he provided management consulting services for numerous corporations and entities, including motion picture and television studios, investment firms, and production/post production companies.
Prior to joining Paramount, he was senior vice president of operations for two divisions of Federated Department Stores.
Lestz is survived by his wife Patricia, daughter Marcie Jastrow, son Paul, and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Friday at 9 AM at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.