Ron Gilbert, an Emmy-nominated producer and partner with David Susskind in the indie production company Talent Associates Ltd that was behind TV series like Get Smart and movies including Straw Dogs and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, died of heart failure December 4 at his Los Angeles home. He was 87.
Talent Associates was a major force in the 1960s and ’70s, producing series including East Side, West Side starring George C. Scott, NYPD, The Glass Menagerie starring Katharine Hepburn, Eleanor and Franklin, Blind Ambition starring Martin Sheen and Get Smart. Gilbert served as executive in charge of production on several shows including Get Smart, the spy comedy that was hatched in the mid-1960s at the then New York-based company by two of its young writers, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. It premiered on NBC in 1965, ran five seasons and established Talent Associates’ L.A. base.
On the feature side, Talent Associates produced Straw Dogs, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, All Creatures Great and Small and Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson. Gilbert’s first production at Talent Associates in 1963 was James Agee’s All the Way Home, starring Jean Simmons and Robert Preston.
After Gilbert and Susskind sold Talent Associates to Time Inc. in 1977 to form Time Life Films, the outfit produced Fort Apache the Bronx among other titles. Later in his career, Gilbert produced several TV movies with Hill/Mandelker Productions and Leonard Hill Films including 1985’s The Long Hot Summer starring Don Johnson and Cybill Shepherd. It was nominated for two Emmys including for Best Miniseries.
The Brooklyn-born Gilbert’s last project was The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, a feature film he produced and financed with his son Brad Gilbert. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Evans starred.
Gilbert is survived by his wife, Rose; three sons, Brad, Adam and Steven; and four grandchildren. Donations in his memory can be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
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