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Gordon Hunt


1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Gordon Hunt Obituary
April 26, 1929 - December 17, 2016 If life were simply the sum of career titles and industry awards, Gordon Hunt, who left us this past Saturday, December 17th, would have already won the game. From New York to Hollywood, he directed for stage, film, and television, winning a Director's Guild of America Award for his work on the hit comedy, Mad About You. For over a decade, he was casting director for LA's Mark Taper Forum. He taught a master acting class that produced such talents as his Academy Award winning daughter Helen Hunt and Emmy Award winner Jonathan Banks. He was a pioneer of voiceover recording at the legendary Hanna-Barbera Studios. His summer musicals at the Hollywood Bowl always drew full houses and rave reviews. A master of reinvention, when television work slowed, he turned to video games and became a pioneer in the field of motion capture technology, which included the "Uncharted" series, one of the best selling video games of all time. And as a voice actor, he was Wally in the animated adaptation of the comic strip "Dilbert." But, as anyone who ever knew him will attest, Gordon was so much more than his work and his awards. Born on April 26, 1929 in Pasadena, California, he was the third of four children. His father George was a successful furniture designer. His mother Helen died when the boy was only four, the victim of a drunk driver. At age five, the self-described "shy kid" discovered Rachmaninoff, listening incessantly with his best friend, art historian, Helen Kellogg. He grew up fascinated by music and the theatre, leading to a Liberal Arts degree from UCLA. From 1947 to 1949, he stage managed a small theatre in Pasadena, developing an interest in directing which paid off in surprising ways. When he entered the U.S. Army in 1954, he got out of a good amount of basic training by telling his commanding officer that he wanted to make a documentary about him. Going on to helm a series of talent showcases with some of his Army buddies, he took the show on the road, which brought him to Hollywood in 1956 as an associate producer on the Oscar Levant Show. And a career was born. From his early days sipping Remy Martin in piano bars and cruising the streets of Los Angeles in a Corvette, to his later years of meditation, Pilates, and reading Ram Dass, everything he did, he did full-out -- because he was passionate about life. About art. About people. Before he became casting director for The Taper, actors needed an agent to audition and a specific role to read for. So Gordon initiated a policy of regular, open auditions for both equity and non-equity actors who merely wanted to be seen. That love of the acting profession and his support and encouragement for those who do it was evident in his approach. He advised every actor to plan something fun for right after their audition. And if a nervous actor said, "I hope they like me", he suggested they say "I hope I like them" instead. He later compiled those lessons into How To Audition, the definitive how-to manual in the field, being re-issued this week as an e-book with a forward by his daughter Helen. Beyond his work, Gordon was an avid body surfer, a regular visitor to Santa Monica Bay from the age of six and on into his 80's. He worshipped Bruce Springsteen and was a brilliant wordsmith himself, writing songs including the beautiful "Errol Flynn" about his childhood hero, with music by Grammy-winner Amanda McBroom. He was the consummate host and chef, friends counting themselves extremely lucky to be invited to the house for an evening concert-with-tacos or a brunch of "Opera and Omelets", the eggs from Gordon and the opera from his loving wife, BJ Ward. As he left us this past weekend, BJ asked what his final wish might be. What could she do for him? "Laugh," he said. For all who knew and loved him, that is so Gordon. He is survived by wife BJ Ward; devoted daughter Helen Hunt; step-daughter Colleen Morrison Hunt; brother George Hunt III; brother Peter Hunt and Peter's children Max, Daisy, and Amy; grandchildren Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, Emmett Carnahan, and god-daughter Lizze Gordon. A documentary film, Pebbles, Ripples and Waves, which chronicles Gordon Hunt's life is set to be released in 2017.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 21, 2016
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