Helped build CAA business


Ray Kurtzman, CAA's longtime head of business affairs who helped build the agency into a powerhouse, has died. He was 79.

Kurtzman died Monday in Beverly Hills of complications from Alzheimer's.

In 1978, Kurtzman left his post as a TV and motion picture attorney and business affairs executive at WMA to join the then-fledging CAA as head of business affairs. During the next 23 years, until he retired in 2001, he saw CAA grow from 20 employees to more than 200.

Kurtzman's career in the entertainment industry spanned almost 50 years. He stared in 1954 in the legal department at Allied Artists Pictures. He later worked as in-house counsel at Mirisch Corp. and West Coast head of business affairs at Columbia Pictures before going to WMA.

Kurtzman was well-liked in the industry and was known as a mentor to dozens of agents and entertainment executives.

During his career, he served on the boards of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, among others. He also was president of the Southwest Region of the American Committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Kurtzman is survived by his wife, Lynette; children Rick Kurtzman, a senior motion picture talent agent at CAA, Howard Kurtzman and Janet Lonner; and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service for Kurtzman will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Motion Picture Television Fund or the CAA Foundation.