Record company executive
Al Coury, 78, a longtime record company executive who helped propel the “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” soundtracks to the top of the pop charts in the 1970s as chief of the RSO record label, died Thursday in Thousand Oaks of complications from a stroke, his family announced.
After 17 years at Capitol Records, Coury became president of RSO in 1976, when entertainment entrepreneur Robert Stigwood launched the label with a roster led by Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees. Known for his promotional skill, Coury seized on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, which was dominated by the Bee Gees’ falsetto harmonies and disco beat.
By cross-promoting the music and the film starring John Travolta, Coury helped push the soundtrack to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart for 24 weeks, and a record six consecutive singles from the album held the top spot. The album also sold more than 25 million copies. When the “Grease” soundtrack followed “Saturday Night Fever” to the Billboard top spot, RSO dominated No. 1 for 36 weeks.
Coury left RSO in 1980 to establish his own label, Network Records, which released the “Flashdance” soundtrack. He moved to Geffen Records as head of promotion when it was created in 1985 and retired as general manager in 1992.
Albert Eli Coury was born Oct. 21, 1934, and was raised in Worcester, Mass. He played the trumpet as a youngster and joined Capitol Records as a salesman in Connecticut, promoting the label’s artists in New England. He rose to vice president of marketing, sales and promotion and counted among his highlights working with Paul McCartney on “Band on the Run” and John Lennon on “Walls and Bridges” after the Beatles broke up.
Belief in the artists and the music were the key to his success, Coury told People magazine in 1979. “It is impossible for me not to convince others if I’m enthusiastic,” Coury said. “Programmers detect insincerity. Your credibility is tarnished.” But if the material is bad, he added, “no amount of promotion or hype will save it.”
Actress who turned to producing
Gail Kobe, 81, an actress who segued from appearing in the prime-time soap “Peyton Place” to producing daytime soap operas, died of natural causes Aug. 1 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement home in Woodland Hills, said her cousin, Judy Anderson.
After debuting as a slave in the epic 1956 film “The Ten Commandments,” Kobe made dozens of guest appearances on television before being cast as Doris Schuster, wife of the plant manager, in the mid-1960s in the ABC drama “Peyton Place.”
Her other TV roles in the 1960s included episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” “Gunsmoke,” “Felony Squad” and “Mannix.”
As a member of Theatre West, she directed and starred in plays at the Mark Taper Forum, said her friend, actor Jonathan Del Arco.
In the 1970s, Kobe turned to producing, working on such shows as “Return to Peyton Place,” “The Edge of Night” and “The People’s Court.” After producing more than 200 episodes of “The Bold and the Beautiful” in the late 1980s, she retired to Rancho Mirage.
She was born in Detroit on March 19, 1932, according to her family, and moved west to attend UCLA.
‘Captain Kangaroo’ puppeteer
Cosmo Allegretti, a puppeteer who gave life to a cast of characters including Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit and Mister Moose on the children’s television show “Captain Kangaroo,” died of emphysema July 26 in Arizona, his attorney and friend John Munzel said. He was 86. The show, starring Bob Keeshan, debuted on CBS in 1955 and aired for more than 30 years.
— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports