Syracuse University Magazine

Gilbert Cates '55, G'65

Gilbert CatesGilbert Cates, the longtime producer of the Academy Awards and two-term president of the Directors Guild of America, died in Los Angeles on November 1, 2011, at age 77. He produced 14 Oscar presentations for network television, winning an Emmy in 1991 for the 63rd annual show, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. Cates was also a producing director and president of the board at the Geffen Playhouse and served as dean of UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television from 1990 to 1998. Cates was originally a pre-med student at SU, but switched to theater after becoming enamored with the profession when, as a member of the fencing team, he was asked to teach actors in the drama department how to fence. He earned a bachelor's degree in speech and dramatic arts in 1955 and a master's degree in drama in 1965. He served as a member of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Council and as a guest speaker for "Sorkin Week," a learning practicum in L.A. for drama and film students. Cates received an Arents Award, the University's highest alumni honor, in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Judith Reichman Cates, four children, including actor-director-writer Gil Cates Jr. '91, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.


Al Davis '50

Al Davis, the legendary owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died in his Northern California home on October 8, 2011, at age 82. Long considered a maverick for his controversial style and feuds with the league, Davis was one of the most successful owners in professional sports. Under his ever watchful eye for nearly five decades, the Raiders won three Super Bowl titles (1977, 1981, 1984) in five appearances and posted the best winning percentage in all of pro sports from 1963-85. An English major at SU, Davis played junior varsity football and voraciously studied Coach Ben Schwartzwalder’s strategies, taking notes at practices and games. Building on that foundation, he moved through the gridiron ranks, holding positions with several college and pro teams before being named head coach and general manager of the Raiders in 1963. That same year he collected AFL Coach of the Year honors. Three years later, as AFL commissioner, he was instrumental in the league’s merger with the NFL. He then returned to the Raiders as an owner. Davis was noted for hiring the NFL’s first African American head coach of the modern era, the first Latino head coach, and the first woman as a top executive. At his 1992 enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he said, “The enshrinement is a reflection of a life’s work, a reflection of a love affair with the greatest game the world has ever known.”