Notable deaths: Tom Sherak, Harry Gamble, Jose Emilio Pacheco

January 29
Tom Sherak
film academy president

Tom Sherak, a film marketing and distribution executive who served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 2009 to 2012, died Jan. 28 at his home in Calabasas, Calif. He was 68.

The cause was prostate cancer, his family announced.

At the academy, Mr. Sherak expanded the number of best picture Oscar nominees from five to 10 and was instrumental in bringing in younger academy members and making the group more diverse.

Earlier, Mr. Sherak spent 17 years at 20th Century Fox, where he became the domestic film group chairman. During his career, Mr. Sherak helped market and distribute such films as “Titanic,” “Die Hard,” “Wall Street,” “Independence Day” and “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace.”

Thomas Mitchell Sherak was born in Brooklyn. After Army service during the Vietnam War, he entered a training program at Paramount Pictures, working in distribution offices on the East Coast and in the Midwest.


As president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Tom Sherak expanded the number of best picture Oscar nominees from five to 10 and was instrumental in bringing in younger academy members and making the group more diverse. (Reuters)

He worked for other film companies, including Boston-based theater chain General Cinema as a film buyer. He joined 20th Century Fox in 1983. After leaving the studio, he became a partner in Revolution Studios and also worked as a consultant.

Last fall, Mr. Sherak was appointed Los Angeles film czar to help bring runaway production back to the city. He was also responsible for completing a deal for the academy’s new film museum with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum is tentatively set to open in 2017.

Harry Gamble
football coach, executive

Harry Gamble, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles as well as Lafayette, Penn and New Jersey high school teams before retiring as the Eagles’ president, died Jan. 28 at 83.

The team announced the death but gave no other details.

In 1981, Mr. Gamble joined the Eagles as a volunteer assistant coach under Dick Vermeil and became a full-time staffer a year later, coaching special teams and tight ends. He moved into the front office as director of football operations in 1984, and a year later he was named general manager by owner Leonard Tose.

In 1986, he became team president, a position he held until 1994.

A native of Pitman, N.J., Mr. Gamble played offensive lineman at Rider University in New Jersey and served in the Army. He started teaching and coaching at Clayton and Audubon high schools in New Jersey from 1954 to 1961 before being hired by Penn to be an assistant coach from 1962 to 1966.

That was followed by a stint as head coach at Lafayette in Pennsylvania until 1970.

He returned to Penn as head coach in 1971 and remained there until 1980. While coaching there, he was selected as the NCAA District 1 Coach of the Year and named by the New York State Sportswriters Association as the University Division Eastern coach of the year in 1972.

Jose Emilio Pacheco
Mexican poet

Jose Emilio Pacheco, widely regarded as one of Mexico’s foremost poets and short story writers, died Jan. 26 in Mexico City. He was 74.

The country’s National Council for Culture and the Arts announced the death but did not disclose the cause.

The poet, novelist, journalist, essayist and literary critic came to be seen as a leading representative of the generation of Mexican writers that came of age in the late 1950s and 1960s.

He was best known for bittersweet accounts of adolescents growing up in a less crowded — but corrupt and unjust — Mexico of the 1940s and ’50s. He was particularly noted for the 1981 novel “Las Batallas en el Desierto,” or “Battles in the Desert,” a story of a boy’s infatuation with the mother of one of his classmates.

Mr. Pacheco, who was born in Mexico City, began publishing the literary magazines Estaciones in 1957 with fellow university students Carlos Monsivais and Sergio Pitol, according to an official biography published when he won the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor.

His first collection of stories was published in 1958. He followed with a series of poems and story collections in the 1960s. He became editor of Culture, one of most important literary publications in Mexico during the 1960s, and published a widely praised series of prose and poetry over the next decades.

In 2009, Mr. Pacheco won the Cervantes. He was also awarded nearly two dozen other literary prizes from governments and cultural institutions in Mexico and a host of other Spanish-speaking countries.

Mr. Pacheco also taught literature at universities in the United States, Britain and Canada and translated works by Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams and T.S. Eliot.

— From news services