Website last updated: 26-2-2024

In Memoriam: United Artists President David Picker 1931-2019

By: Mark Cerulli
David Picker United Artists president
The Bond community took another heavy loss on 20th April 2019 with the passing of influential movie executive David V. Picker, 87, who was part of the management team of United Artists (now operating under the United Artists Releasing banner) from 1962 to 1973. Picker is legendary for having had a major hand in bringing James Bond to the screen.

David Picker – The Man Who Greenlit James Bond

When producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli were looking for a studio to finance Dr. No (1962) and Columbia Pictures (now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment) turned them down, Picker immediately expressed interest and brought them into United Artists. That decision paved the way for one of the most successful franchises in movie history. During his UA tenure, Picker also greenlit influential films like Midnight Cowboy, Last Tango in Paris and Woody Allen’s films.

David with his brother Arnold Picker around the time of You Only Live Twice premiere
David Picker with Daniel Craig at the Producers Guild of America Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills 2014. Photo by John Shearer/Invision.

With a keen eye for talent in any form, he also recommended that The Beatles, be given their own film – the result was the 1964 smash, A Hard Day’s Night and their follow ups, Help! and Yellow Submarine, all of which made money for the studio. Picker also worked at Paramount Studios (where he greenlit the iconic musical Grease among others) and Lorimar Productions (where he made Peter Sellers’ final film, Being There). As a successful independent producer he made movies like Juggernaut, Lenny and Smile.

David with The Beatles in the 1960s
David Picker with The Beatles in the 1960's.

Picker’s autobiography Musts, Maybes and Nevers was published in 2013 and is a must-read for anyone interested in Bond and movie history. This writer was privileged to have spent several hours with him before the book’s release and he was the epitome of class and sophistication, willing to share many of his stories. (But for others, he would only say, “Read the book...”)

Picker died in New York City and FSWL expresses our deepest sympathies to his wife and family. It was due to his keen intellect and savvy commercial sensibility that Bond made the tricky leap from the page to the cinema– so every time the gun barrel appears onscreen, it’s a fitting legacy for David Picker. He will be greatly missed.

Friend and Academy Award nominee Norman Lear remember David V. Picker

“David [Picker] was easily the smartest, bravest, most affable of the studio heads. He made the most difficult decisions seem easy. He was a great friend and personal hero of mine and will be missed like few others.”

David with his brother Arnold Picker around the time of You Only Live Twice premiere
David with his brother Arnold Picker (left) around the time of the You Only Live Twice premiere. Copyright Norman Wanstall.

Obituaries in the press about David Picker's passing

>BBC News
>Hollywood Reporter
>LA Times
>The New York Times

Photo on top
David Picker at the launch party for his memoirs in Beverly Hills 2013. Copyright Lee Pfeiffer. All rights reserved.

For more information about David V. Picker and his amazing career, check out his IMDB profile.



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