Gary Martin, Former Sony Pictures Exec, Dies at 79

The studio renamed its historic Stage 15, of “The Wizard of Oz” fame, after Martin in 2013

Gary Martin of Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Gary Martin, a veteran Sony Pictures executive who served as president of studio operations and product for 32 years, has died, according to a family spokesperson. Martin was 79.

Martin died on Nov. 2 from natural causes at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherwood Forest.

Martin, who began his studio career at 20th Century Fox in 1961, joined Columbia Pictures 20 years later and rose to the position of president of production in 1988. He retained his position after Sony acquired Columbia in 1989 and was promoted to president of studios operations in 2003.

During his 32-year career at Columbia/Sony, Martin played a key role in the company’s impressive string of box office hits, overseeing the production of films such as Best Picture Oscar nominee “Tootsie” and “Ghostbusters,” as well as the “Men in Black,” “Spider-Man” and “Casino Royale” franchises.

Martin oversaw the production of over 600 films for the studio.

Upon his retirement in 2013, Sony Pictures renamed its most iconic sound stage, Stage 15, the Gary Martin Stage in his honor. Built in 1927, Stage 15 is one of the largest sound stages in the world and has been used to film classic films such as “The Wizard of Oz” and, more recently, the “Spider-Man” and “Men in Black” franchises.

“As a colleague at Sony and then as the production head when I made a few films there, Gary was rough, tough, great at his work, and one of the sweetest, most beautiful people on the lot,” former Academy president Sid Ganis said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the news.

Martin is survived by his wife of 56 years Susan, his son Sean, daughter-in-law Aisha, grandchildren Camille, Norah and Natalie, sister-in-law Nancy, nephews Larry, Steve, Jason and Matthew, and nieces Colleen, Linda and Nicole.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the MPTF. A funeral service will be held at 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 at the Old North Church at Forest Lawn in Los Angeles.

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