Earl Lestz, a longtime executive at Paramount Pictures and former chairman of the board of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, has died of an apparent heart attack, his family said. He was 78.
Over his 21-year career at Paramount, from 1983 to 2004, Lestz oversaw operations for the studio as president of Paramount Studio Group. He was credited with helping modernize the storied studio’s 63-acre lot, overseeing major development and renovations, updating the soundstages and upgrading the infrastructure, expanding post-production capabilities and creating the first child care center at any studio.
Prior to joining Paramount, Lestz was an executive at Federated Department Stores, serving as senior vice president of operations for the Bullock’s chain. After his retirement from Paramount, he went on to consult for various entertainment-related ventures.
A former chairman of the board of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Lestz was also involved in a number of other local organizations and served on the boards of the Hollywood Historic Trust, the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and Goodwill Industries of Southern California.
A member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.
Lestz, who died Wednesday, is survived by his wife Patricia, a son Paul, daughter Marcie Jastrow, and six grandchildren.