Lord Lew Grade; British Film, TV Mogul

<i> From Times Wire Reports</i>

Britain’s flamboyant film and television entrepreneur Lord Lew Grade has died at age 91, apparently as a result of heart failure, British media reported Sunday.

Grade made his name producing such worldwide television hits as the epic “Jesus of Nazareth” and the zany “Muppet Show,” which at its peak in the 1970s reached a weekly audience of 235 million viewers in 11 countries.

With his fat cigars and big cars, Grade was a popular media personality and an irrepressible entrepreneur who notched up numerous successes.


But having built a formidable media empire, Grade--a tailor’s son from the Ukraine--nearly sank with his disastrous blockbuster movie “Raise the Titanic,” about the luxury liner that went down in the Atlantic in 1912.

“It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic,” Grade once joked.

But Grade, 76 at the time, refused to retire. In 1982, he became chairman of the European side of Embassy Communications, one of the largest entertainment groups in the United States.

He co-produced the hit musical “Starlight Express” by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1984, and a year later launched the Grade Company to make films and television series.