Gary Martin was a second-generation industry executive. His father Ivan was the Director of Studio Operations at 20th Century Fox for many years; Gary spent his childhood on sound stages. Gary started his career as a laborer. Over the course of the next 20 years, he worked in different capacities at several Hollywood studios before arriving at Sony -- then Columbia Pictures -- as a Production Manager in 1981. He oversaw physical and post-production starting in 1988 and added studio operations in 2003. Upon his retirement in 2013, Sony Pictures re-named its most storied stage 15 -- one of the largest in the world – to the Gary Martin Stage. Built in 1927, it was used for lensing “The Wizard of Oz” (the yellow brick road is under the current stage floor!) and more recently the “Spider-Man” and “Men in Black” franchises.
At the dedication of Stage 15, then-Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal said of Gary, “His leadership, grace and skill are unparalleled in our business. There is no one who comes close.” Gary was a mentor to many of today’s leaders in producing and production management. He was known as being smart, tough and fiercely committed to making sure that Sony Pictures got the best result for its investment. Many directors and producers in the industry can recall their encounters with Gary – not always pleasant because he was the guy delivering the hard news, but always fair and honest.
Gary, along with his wife Susan, were also well known for their incredible generosity to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, an organization introduced to Gary by his father in his early days in the industry. Gary never forgot the wonderful care his mother received at the Motion Picture Hospital and remained a lead donor until his death. The Susan and Gary Martin Screening Room in the Louis B. Mayer theater complex on the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills is just one example of the Martins’ generosity: in 2014, the Martinspaid for a gut renovation of the room to bring it up to industry standards both in technology and aesthetics. Martin and actor-director Clint Eastwood have supported MPTF’s benefits assistance program for military veterans in the entertainment industry for many years. “We never had to ask Gary and Susan for anything.They were always one step ahead of us,” said Bob Beitcher, MPTF CEO and long-time friend of Gary. “Gary would ask, ‘What can we do that would make a positive impact for the residents?’ We’d give him the list of things we were considering, and he’d pick out the most costly items and say, ‘Susie and I want to give you the money for that,’ Beitcher continued. “He was the best kind of donor, one who gave from his heart,” Beitcher concluded.
Gary Martin is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Susan; son Sean; daughter-in-law Aisha; grandchildren Camille, Norah, and Natalie; sister-in-law Nancy Patterson; nephews Larry Ellena, Steve Ellena, Jason Ellena and Matthew Ellena and their families; and nieces Colleen Milroy, Linda Patterson, Nicole Ellena and their families.
Funeral services will be held at the Old North Church on the grounds of Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills (6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068) on Friday, November 17th, 2023 @ 9am. Donation in his memory may be made in lieu of flowers to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
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