Lee Gabler, Talent Agent and Former CAA Co-Chair, Dies at 84

Lee Gabler, a talent agent and former co-chairman and managing partner at Creative Artists Agency, died June 3 in Los Angeles after suffering a brain injury. He was 84.

After earning his stripes in the 1960s at the mailroom of Ashley Steiner Famous Artists in New York, Gabler was soon promoted to talent agency under the mentorship of agency founder, Ted Ashley. The agency eventually evolved into International Creative Management, and by 1970, Gabler was promoted to executive vice president. He then transferred to the Los Angeles office and became head of the worldwide Television Department. He represented clients such as Weinberger-Daniels-Brooks, MTM and Bruce Paltrow.

In 1982, CAA recruited Gabler to bolster its television arm, and by 1989 he was head of the division. He was made co-chairman and managing partner in 1996. Gabler and his division represented Aaron Spelling, for whom he negotiated deals for “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place;” Paul Junger Witt, Susan Harris and Tony Thomas’ Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions; Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment; Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners; Jerry Bruckheimer, John Wells, and many other producers. Under Gabler’s guidance, CAA achieved a record-breaking 52 television shows on air in one year.

Other titles that Gabler covered during his time at ICM and CAA included “Taxi,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Tales from the Crypt,” “Moonlighting,” “ALF,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “The West Wing,” “House,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Band of Brothers,” “Mad Men,” “24,” “Sex and the City” (with ICM) and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

His 25-plus years with CCA ended in 2007 when he left to join David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, Inc. as a consultant. In a statement to Variety, Letterman called Gabler “a true gentleman in a world marked by shortage of same.”

In 2019, Gabler and his wife Elizabeth founded the Gabler Promise Scholars Writing Program at the University of California at Santa Barbara, which supports students from historically under-resourced communities in writing. Similarly, Gabler and Elizabeth founded the Gabler Writing Partners Program at NYU, which offers writing support to Gallatin students.

Gabler is survived by his daughters Analise and Jennifer Gabler and his wife Elizabeth, who is president of 3000 Pictures at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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