Bud Yorkin Remembered at Star-Studded Memorial at DGA

Cynthia Yorkin and Tom Hanks at Bud Yorkin memorial - H 2015
Courtesy of Adam Bankhead

The 400-people strong crowd paying tribute to the prolific producer-director included Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

A memorial that begins with a white robed, 30-person gospel choir accompanied by a 22-piece orchestra singing the theme from The Jeffersons ("We're moving on up, to the East Side, to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky") in front of a 400-strong crowd that includes Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Norman Lear, Alan Horn and Jerry Bruckheimer is not your average memorial.

The extraordinary service held Monday night at the Directors Guild headquarters was for prolific producer-director Bud Yorkin, whose many credits included The Jeffersons. He was 89 when he died on Aug. 18. His list of TV credits ranged from All in the Family and Sanford and Son back to the Colgate Comedy Hour starring Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin in the early 1950s. He won three Emmys. He also directed Frank Sinatra in 1963’s Come Blow Your Horn and co-executive produced Blade Runner.

"Bud was a showman," says his widow, Cynthia Yorkin. "He wouldn’t want anything less than a show that entertains his friends as a memorial."

The memorial began with remarks from her followed by a photo montage going back to Yorkin’s 1920s Pennsylvania childhood; a video message from President Bill Clinton and daughter Nicole saying her father believed "you should never let fear get in the way of what you want to do." His older son David noted that his father loved "all sports and, as he got older, golf and more golf."

Yorkin’s younger son Michael told the story of when his father was being operated on for the last time. He recalled how Cynthia touched his head and Yorkin said, "Don’t mess up my hair, darling." This was a sign, said Michael, that his father "had his priorities straight right up to the end."

Monica Mancini, daughter of Yorkin’s friend and next-door neighbor Henry Mancini, sang "Two for the Road." On video, Burt Bacharach performed “A House Is Not a Home,” Steve Tyrell sang “Smile” and Patti Austin did a version of “Our Love Is Her to Stay.” Tributes also came from Robert Benton, Sam Feldman and William Friedkin (The Exorcist), who said Yorkin "for 50 years was the older brother I never had."

The memorial ended with 50 minutes of excerpts from shows Yorkin worked on. Among those viewing were Bob Daly, Mo Ostin, Maria Shriver, Gordon Davidson, Larry Gordon, Mike Medavoy, Art Linson, Amy Madigan, Lili Zanuck, John Davis, Tony Bill, George Schlatter, John Burnham, Arnold Kopelson, Jean Firstenberg and Don Rickles.

"You know how good the show was?" said The Godfather producer Al Ruddy. "When it was over, I went up to Cynthia and told her. ‘When I die, I want you to do mine.'"