Charles Gary Allison (1938-2008) - Publisher, Writer, Producer and Historian, Gary Allison, a WGA award winning writer and producer, died at his home in Hollywood on May 13. Born in 1938 in Newport, Rhode Island, he grew up in various locations, ending in Cupertino, California. Gary received his undergraduate degree in International Relations from USC in 1960. He returned to USC and received dual Master Degrees in Professional Writing and Cinema Production in 1977. In the 1960's Allison served in the US Army, as a member of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard", responsible for guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. During this time, he founded the Heritage Cavaliers tour company and published a guidebook to the nation's capitol. Gary also worked in the Kennedy and Nixon administrations developing, and chairing a non-partisan White House youth program called the Presidential Classroom for Young Americans. In 1977, while a graduate student at USC, Gary wrote and produced "Fraternity Row" for which he won an LA Film Critics award. "Fraternity Row" was to serve as a model for independent filmmakers to come. In 1978, Allison helped to found and served as co-chair of the Utah/US Film Festival with Robert Redford, which would later become the Sundance Film Festival Gary went on to teach screenwriting at USC while writing and developing several film and television projects under contract to Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures Television. In 1984, Gary won the Writer's Guild of America award for outstanding screenplay for "The First Olympics: Athens 1896". The NBC miniseries also won several Emmy awards that same year. His love for history, the Olympic Games and the success of "The First Olympics: Athens 1896" led Gary to create a definitive and accessible history of the modern Olympic movement. He began work on the "The Olympic Century", the official 25 volume history of the modern Olympic movement, under license to the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. The series was first published in 1996, in celebration of the centennial of the Olympic Games. Gary continued working on the series, adding a volume, every four years, until the time of his death. Gary remained active in the Writer's Guild, reading scripts for aspiring writers and mentoring beginning filmmakers. He also collaborated on several books and publications. Gary lived an extraordinary life, traveled the world and had many friends and loved ones. He is survived by his sister Rona and brother-in-law Rodger Wooley; nieces and nephews, his business partner of 25 years, Robert Rossi and his family; as well as many people who loved him dearly. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 AM on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations in the name of Charles Gary Allison to the University Of Southern California School Of Cinematic Arts.
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Published in San Jose Mercury News on May 23, 2008