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Sunday, 13 December, 1998, 08:35 GMT
Making of the Grade
Lord Grade was rarely seen without a cigar
Lew Grade was a showbiz mogul of the old school.

Larger than life and hardly ever without a cigar between his lips, he dominated the post-war entertainment business in theatre, film production and as one of the pioneers of ITV.


Lord Grade grew up in London's East End
He was born on Christmas Day in 1906 to Olga and Isaac Winogradsky in the small Ukrainian town of Tokmak.

Lew was just six when he left with his parents and brothers Leslie and Bernard - later to become Lord Delfont - to start a new life in London's East End.

His nephew, Michael, the son of brother Leslie, became Chief Executive of Channel 4.


Dancing was his love as a youngster
A precocious dancer, Lew found early fame as the world Charleston champion.

With his brother Leslie he formed Britain's most successful theatrical agency.

Among his clients were Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.


Laurence Olivier was on the books of Lew Grade's agency
The decline of variety saw Lew Grade move into films and television.

Through his company ATV he was associated with immortal names like The Muppets, Jesus of Nazareth, Crossroads, The Saint, The Persuaders, George and Mildred, Thunderbirds and Sunday Night at the Palladium.

Under Lord Grade, ATV came to dominate television from the 1950s into the 1970s.

His television production of Jesus of Nazareth brought him worldwide recognition.


The Muppets helped establish Lord Grade's name in TV
And his idiosyncratic style came through in the negotiations for US TV rights.

He said: "Coming over on the plane, I had a vision.

"I saw a figure 25. Now I knew it couldn't be $25. I knew it couldn't be $25,000. I therefore assumed it meant $25m."

It was rumoured that during the making of Jesus of Nazareth, Lord Grade asked the director if he could not manage with six disciples instead of 12.

Later denying the story, the truth proved wittier than the fiction.

He said: "When I was planning Jesus of Nazareth, I was talking to Ted Willis - a great friend - about what a terrific idea it was and he said to me, 'Lew, you couldn't even name the 12 Apostles'.

"I bet him I could, and I started, 'Matthew, Mark, Luke, John...' and that was all I could remember, so I said, 'Well, I haven't finished reading the script yet.'"

His other film credits include the Pink Panther series, On Golden Pond, The Exorcist, Sophie's Choice, and the ill-fated Raise The Titanic.

He received the Queen's Award to Industry in 1967 - the first such award to Britain's entertainment business - and in 1969 was knighted for his services to export. He was made a life peer in 1976.

Lord Grade married his wife, Kathie, in 1942. They had one adopted son, Paul, and two grandchildren, Daniel and Georgina.

Paying tribute, the film-maker Michael Winner said: "He was just a wonderful man to go and see and do a deal with.

"He was just a man like he was running the corner shop. If you went to see him, you got in immediately, you would do a deal and that was it, you went away and made a film."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Lord Grade attributed his success to good team work
Audio
Despite the Titanic flop, Lord Grade never lost his enthusiasm for the film industry
Audio
Los Angeles-based TV expert Martin Lewis: Lord Grade won hearts of audiences around the world
Audio
Michael Winner: "A unique man"
See also:

13 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Showbusiness legend Lord Grade dead
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