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Mel Harris, who helped shape the syndication and home video businesses as a senior executive at Paramount and Sony, died Sept. 6 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 65.
Harris served two stints at Sony Pictures Entertainment, most recently as president and COO for three years before retiring in 2002. From 1992-95, he was president of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Group, where he orchestrated the company’s entry into first-run syndication, formed a barter advertising sales unit and an interactive TV division and built satellite broadcasting outlets around the globe.
Before Sony, he had been with Paramount Pictures for 14 years, serving as president of the TV group. At Paramount, he played a key role in the formation of USA Network as well as the introduction of satellite distribution for first-run programming, launching the first syndicated entertainment magazine, “Entertainment Tonight.” He also is credited as an early creator of original programming for cable and was one of the founders of Paramount Home Video and CIC Home Video, where he helped pioneer the sell-through video market.
Anita Page, an MGM actress who appeared in films with Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford and Buster Keaton during the transition from silent movies to talkies, died Sept. 6 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 98.
Page’s big break came in 1928 when she won a major role as the doomed bad girl in “Our Dancing Daughters,” a film that featured a wild Charleston by Crawford and propelled them both to stardom. It spawned two sequels, “Our Modern Maidens” and “Our Blushing Brides”; Page and Crawford were in all three films.
Among Page’s other credits are two of Keaton’s sound films, “Free and Easy” (1930) and “Sidewalks of New York” (1931); “Night Court” (1932) with Walter Huston; and “The Easiest Way” (1931), in which Clark Gable had a small role.
In 1994, she appeared in the suspense thriller “Sunset After Dark.” Most recently, she had a cameo in the horror film “Frankenstein Rising,” due out this year.
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