Gareth Wigan dies at 78; studio executive

Staff And Wire Reports

Gareth Wigan, a longtime studio executive who also was a producer and agent, died Saturday at his Los Angeles home after a brief illness, a spokesman for Columbia Pictures said. Wigan was 78.

Wigan, born Dec. 2, 1931, in London, began his career as an agent in the late 1950s and moved to California in the 1970s, working as an executive for several Hollywood studios.

In the mid-1960s, he formed his own agency, which was sold to EMI in 1970. Wigan next moved to 20th Century Fox.

He was a production executive on " Star Wars."

"I'll never forget the first time he saw 'Star Wars'. . . . Gareth was so moved that he cried," director George Lucas said in a statement. "As a young filmmaker facing a lot of skeptics, his genuine love of the film meant the world to me."

In 1979, Wigan and fellow Fox executives Alan Ladd Jr. and Jay Kanter formed the Ladd Co., and they developed and produced such films as "Chariots of Fire" and "The Right Stuff."

Wigan joined Sony's Columbia Pictures as a consultant in 1987 and in 1997 was named co-vice chairman of the Columbia TriStar motion picture group.

In 2008, Wigan became a strategic advisor for Sony Pictures Entertainment's international film business.

Wigan is survived by his wife, Pat Newcomb; four children; and seven grandchildren.

Services are pending.

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