David V. Picker

David Victor Picker (May 14, 1931 – April 20, 2019) was an American motion picture executive and producer, working in the film industry for more than forty years. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer for United Artists, Paramount, Lorimar, and Columbia Pictures. He was an independent producer. Picker was a member of the Writers Guild of America East, a member the Producers Guild of America, and he was Chairman Emeritus of the Producers Guild of America East.[1] Picker's memoir about his career in the film industry, Musts, Maybes and Nevers, was released in 2013.[2]

David V. Picker
David Victor Picker

(1931-05-14)May 14, 1931
DiedApril 20, 2019(2019-04-20) (aged 87)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationMovie executive and producer
Known forServed as President and CEO of United Artists, Paramount, Lorimar, and Columbia Pictures

Early life

Picker was born to a Jewish family[3][4][5] on May 14, 1931 in New York City. He was the son of Sylvia (Moses) and Eugene Picker, a film pioneer and movie theatre executive of Loew's Theaters.[6][7][8] David attended Dartmouth College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953.[1][9]

Film career


Picker began his movie career at United Artists in 1956. There, he worked in advertising and publicity. By 1961, he was an assistant to the president.[10][11] By the late 1960s, Picker was managing United Artists Records.[10][11] Picker helped bring Tom Jones to United Artists in 1963. The film received four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Tony Richardson.[12] In 1964, Picker accepted the award on behalf of Tony Richardson, who was not in attendance.[13]

1969–1973: United Artists Corporation

Picker became chief operating officer and president of United Artists Corporation in 1969. He became CEO in 1970.[10] During his time as president, Picker was responsible for a deal with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli for the James Bond series which launched the most successful franchise in cinema history. During his time at United Artists, Picker brought the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Help! to the company, as well as Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris.[1][10][14] Picker helped bring writer and director Woody Allen to United Artists in addition to European filmmakers Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, Louis Malle, and Sergio Leone.[1]


In 1973, Picker left United Artists to form his own production company, Two Roads Productions.[6][10] At Two Roads Productions, Picker produced Juggernaut and Lenny in 1974 and Smile in 1975. Lenny became a critical success and was nominated for six Academy Awards.[10][15] In 1976 David V. Picker became President of Motion Pictures at Paramount but served for only a few years.[10] During this time, he helped develop or greenlight Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and the 1980 Academy Award winner, Ordinary People.[6][11] Upon leaving Paramount in 1979, Picker partnered with comedian Steve Martin to produce that year's The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid in 1982, and The Man With Two Brains in 1983.[10][11] In the mid 1980s, Picker took over as President of Feature Films at Lorimar Productions. As president, he developed and supervised the films S.O.B., Being There, and Escape to Victory.[6][11] Columbia Pictures named David V. Picker as president in the 1980s.[10][11] While at Columbia, Picker greenlit Hope and Glory, School Daze, Vice Versa, Punchline, and True Believer.[6][16][17] By the mid 1980s, Picker was independently producing again. He worked with Harry Belafonte to produce Beat Street.[18] During this period he produced other films, including a remake of Stella Dallas called Stella, starring Bette Midler.[10][11][19]

1993 to 2000s

Picker produced The Saint of Fort Washington for Warner Bros. in 1993 and The Crucible for Twentieth Century Fox in 1996.[6] In 1997, Picker became president of Hallmark Entertainment Productions Worldwide. He agreed to bring the company into feature films.[10][11][14]

From 2004 to 2008, Picker served as chairman of The Producers Guild of America for the East. Picker's memoir about his career in the film industry, Musts, Maybes and Nevers, was released in 2013.[2]

Selected filmography

1964A Hard Day’s Nightexecutive producer (uncredited)
1974Juggernautexecutive producer
1974Lennyexecutive producer
1975Smileexecutive producer
1975Royal Flashproducer
1976Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywoodproducer
1978Oliver’s Storyproducer
1979The Jerkproducer
1982Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaidproducer
1982The Man with Two Brainsproducer
1984Beat Streetproducer
1984The Goodbye Peopleproducer
1988Leader of the Bandproducer
1988The Appointments of Dennis Jenningsexecutive producer
1990Stellaexecutive producer
1991Livin’ Large!producer
1992Traces of Redproducer
1992Leap of Faithproducer
1993The Saint of Fort Washingtonproducer
1996The Crucibleproducer
1998The TemptationsTV, executive producer
1998Rear WindowTV, executive producer
1999P.T. BarnumTV, executive producer
1999Journey to the Center of the EarthMiniseries, executive producer
1999Aftershock: Earthquake in New YorkTV, executive producer
2000In the BeginningTV, executive producer
2000David CopperfieldTV, executive producer
2001Back to the Secret Gardenexecutive producer
2002FidelTV, executive producer
2003Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy TaleTV, executive producer

Personal life and death

Picker's sister is Jean Picker Firstenberg, past CEO and Director of the American Film Institute. He was married to photographer Sandra Jetton. They lived in New York City.

On April 20, 2019, Picker died in New York City from colon cancer at the age of 87.[20] He was survived by his wife, Sandra Jetton, his two daughters Caryn Picker and Pam Picker and his sister.[21]


  1. "David V. Picker". Pproducedbyconference.com. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  2. Bart, Peter. "Greenlighting Movies: A High-Risk Game". Variety. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  3. National Center for Jewish Film. "National Center for Jewish Film - Board of Directors". National Center for Jewish Film. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  4. JTA. "Warburg and Lehman Give to Education Ass'n Fund". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  5. Erens, Patricia (1998). The Jew in American Cinema. Indiana University Press. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-253-20493-6.
  6. "DAVID PICKER SIGNS PRODUCING DEAL WITH PARAMOUNT". TheFreeLibrary. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  7. Sullivan, Ronald (19 October 1993). "Eugene Picker, 89; Originated Strategy For Releasing Films" via NYTimes.com.
  8. "Who's who in the West". Marquis Who's Who, Incorporated. 24 April 2019 via Google Books.
  9. "Filmography". AllMovie. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  10. "ABOUT DAVID V. PICKER". YahooMovies. Archived from the original on 4 April 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  11. "BIOGRAPHY". TCM. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  12. "Tom Jones". IMDB. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  13. "Biography for David V. Picker". IMDB. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  14. "Guests: David V. Picker". Charlie Rose. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  15. "Lenny (1974)". IMDB. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  16. "Produced By Conference". Produced By Conference. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  17. "David V. Picker". IMDB. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  18. "Beat Street (1984)". IMDB. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  19. "David V. PickerFilmography". Fandango. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  20. "Man who brought Beatles to the big screen dies". 23 April 2019 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  21. Feinberg, Scott (April 21, 2019). "David Picker, Studio Chief Who Brought Bond, The Beatles and Steve Martin to the Movies, Dies at 87". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
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