David V. Picker who brought Beatles to the big screen dies aged 87

  • Published
David V. PickerImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
David V. Picker began his film career in 1956 with United Artists

Studio exec David V. Picker, who gave The Beatles their movie debut, has died aged 87.

Picker, who served as the head of United Artists, Paramount and Columbia for more than half a century, died at home in New York at the weekend.

The movie boss introduced the Beatles to Hollywood with the films A Hard Day's Night and Help! and kickstarted the film career of comic Steve Martin.

He had colon cancer and died on Saturday night, said reports.

Picker is also credited with convincing author Ian Fleming that James Bond could make the leap from the written page to the cinema.

MGM Studios tweeted: "We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed away," describing him as "a true visionary."

Skip twitter post by MGM Studios
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
End of twitter post by MGM Studios

Bond - played by Sean Connery - first appeared on screens in 1962's Dr No; the first of 26 editions of the British spy series.

In 1964, a Hard Day's Night saw The Fab Four move from the music charts into movies, with a loosely-scripted comic farce, and they followed it up with another spoof, Help!, the following year.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Beatles on a poster for A Hard Day's Night
Figure caption,
Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

As well as helping to bring the Beatles and Bond to a US audience, Picker oversaw Midnight Cowboy, which was the only X-rated film ever (though the classification no longer exists) to win best picture at the Oscars.

Picker began his career in 1956 at United Artists - the studio founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks.

Image source, Silver Screen Collection
Image caption,
Dustin Hoffman and Midnight Cowboy co-star Jon Voight were both Oscar-nominated

He helped bring the comedy Tom Jones - starring the late Albert Finney to United Artists in 1963 and accepted the Oscar for best director on behalf of Tony Richardson

Picker also helped to launch Steve Martin's movie career with 1979's The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and The Man With Two Brains.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Steve Martin in The Jerk and Sean Connery with Ursula Andress in Dr No

Sony chairman Tom Rothman, who used to work as Picker's assistant said - via Variety: "David was the classiest man in our business.

"A true gentleman and a great film champion."

He added: "Like many others, I owe the start of my career to him, and all of us at Columbia Pictures, benefit to this day from his accomplishments.

"Rest In Peace, old friend."

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.