Pioneering script supervisor Robert Gary dies

Credits include 'Star Trek,' 'The Searchers'

Robert Gary, one of the first male script supervisors in Hollywood who worked shoulder to shoulder with some of the top directors of his day, died May 3 in his sleep at a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was 90.

Gary's first job as a script supervisor -- those who serve alongside the director and track continuity on the set -- came on John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956). He was one of the first men to handle the role, as Ford did not want to bring a woman to the harsh desert environment of the Monument Valley in Arizona.

In 2008, Gary described to NPR how the job of script supervisor evolved. In the days of silent films, only one camera on a tripod was used. Then director D.W. Griffith began using multiple cameras, and continuity became a problem.

"So somebody said, 'Well, get a girl down from secretarial and tell her to keep track of all this stuff,' " Gary said.

Gary went on to work on such films as William Wyler's "Friendly Persuasion" (1956), William Wellman's "Darby's Rangers" (1958), George Stevens' "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1959) and seven features with Robert Aldrich, including "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) and "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964).

His TV credits include "Perry Mason," "Star Trek" and its spinoffs, "Dynasty," "Fame" and "ER."

Gary taught the art of script supervision at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television for more than a decade, at USC and out of his apartment in the building known as the Jack London House near Paramount Studios in Hollywood. He also was a board member and treasurer of IATSE Local 871.

A native of Illinois, Gary came to Hollywood looking to be an actor and worked as an extra. A bodybuilder, he spent time as a fitness trainer for the likes of the sculpted Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster before turning to script supervision.

Survivors include his sister Doris of Porterville, Calif., and her three children.
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