Friday, May 20, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: Bruce Geller & Steve Gentry, May 21, 1978

Bruce Geller and Stephen Gentry were on the move in Hollywood in the 1970s.  Gentry had made his mark producing eight TV series including two hits– the iconic Mission: Impossible, and the police drama Mannix. He also earned a couple of Emmys along the way. Geller had been influences to enter the creative arts by his writing professor at Yale, the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Robert Penn Warren (author of All the King’s Men). He had started his career in entertainment on Broadway, penning critically acclaimed lyrics for popular musicals. He moved to film in the early 1960s, including writing comedian Ernie Kovacs’ last film Sail a Crooked Ship, and winning praise as a feature director for 1973’s Harry in Your Pocket starring James Coburn. Gentry, 37, was a vice-president for west coast programming at ABC. A graduate of Syracuse’s influencial and pioneering broadcast program, he was credited in helping revive ABC’s fortunes by bringing such hits as Charlie’s Angels to what had once been described as “a fourth-place network in a three-network market.”
At 9:15 AM on May 14 1978, Geller and Gentry were flying in Geller’s Cessna 337D from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara and were on final approach in foggy conditions where Geller crashed in Buena Vista Canyon.  The NTSB investigation attributed the accident to a misreading of instruments by the pilot on approach, resulting in the crash.