David Alter, a former legal counsel and senior advisor for the Screen Actors Guild, died Wednesday. He was 85.
Alter had been involved with SAG since 1966, when he was hired to represent the interests of the Guild and its members as outside counsel. He began his career working as an attorney for individual performers.
In 1980, he became national counsel for the Guild, a role which he served for eight years. He then retired from private law practice and became the Guild's director of legal affairs. When he retired from the Guild in July 2004, he was SAG's senior advisor.
Alter was recognized as both an entertainment law specialist and expert negotiator who dealt with a number of important cases resulting in savings and settlements for SAG.
"David Alter was a tremendous advocate for the rights and interests of actors and he was a respected and admired part of the Screen Actors Guild for many years," SAG Interim National Executive Director and former General Counsel David White said in a statement. "His deep knowledge and expertise were invaluable contributions to my early years with the Guild and I will personally miss his brilliant spirit. He was a friend to actors, a friend to the Guild and a friend to me."
John McGuire, SAG's senior advisor and chief negotiator, added:
"David Alter's contributions to Screen Actors Guild and to the entertainment industry were unmatched. He was a beloved member of the SAG family and the entire entertainment community benefited from his years of service and wisdom."
Alter is survived by his wife Deborah, his daughters Lisa and Amy and four grandchildren.
Memorial services are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. on Sun., Aug. 30, 2009 at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 W. 76th Street, New York, NY 10023.