Tom Sherak, a storied figure in the industry who is perhaps best known for serving as the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, died Tuesday at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 68.
Sherak served as the Academy President from 2009 to 2012. During his tenure he took Oscar voting online and made strides in diversifying the demographic of voting members.
“In the more than 30 years I’ve known Tom, his passionate support of and excitement about the motion picture business, the Academy, his family and friends never wavered. He was truly larger than life, and he will be missed,” wrote current Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement. Academy CEO Dawn Hudson added: “He was my mentor and my friend. I learned from him, I laughed with him, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time we shared together. He had a huge influence on the direction of our Academy and on me personally. I will miss laughing with him most of all.”
An actor, producer, and film marketing and distribution exec, Sherak was born in Brooklyn, New York and started his career at Paramount in 1970. He spent 17 years at 20th Century Fox, worked as a partner at Revolution Studios, and, more recently, consulted for Marvel and Relativity. Movies released during his tenures at Fox and Revolution include Aliens, Die Hard, Home Alone, Independence Day, and Black Hawk Down.
In September, Sherak was appointed Los Angeles film czar, a new position created by Mayor Eric Garcetti intended to reinvigorate the city as a destination for film and television shoots. He famously took a salary of $1 for the job. Known for his generous charity work as well – particularly with Multiple Sclerosis organizations – Sherak is survived by his wife and three children.