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Cates produced and directed films, television shows and plays on and off Broadway. His film credits include 1970’s “I Never Sang for My Father” with Gene Hackman, and 1980’s “Oh God! Book II” with George Burns.

He produced and directed plays at the Geffen Playhouse, where he was regarded as “our founder, our leader and our heart,” according to a statement Tuesday.

“Gil has always referred to the staff of the Geffen Playhouse as his second family,” said board chairman Frank Mancuso. “And it is as a family that we mourn this tremendous loss. Gil built this theater and he will forever be at the center of it - we honor his life by continuing the fulfillment of his dream. As my dear friend Gil would no doubt say, `onward and upward with the arts.’”

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Judith Reichman, four children, two stepchildren and six grandchildren.