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October 01, 2013

A.C. Lyles, Paramount Fixture for Eight Decades

Lyles, who started in the mailroom when Adolph Zukor ran Paramount, went on to work in publicity and later as a producer. More recently he served as the studio's "Ambassador of Goodwill."

A.C. Lyles, a publicist and producer who worked at Paramount Studios for more than 80 years, died September 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. He was 95.

Lyles started in the Paramount mailroom when Adolph Zukor ran the studio. He went on to spend many years in the publicity department before becoming a producer. 

After leaving the studio for a short time, he returned to work in television. He worked on ABC's Afterschool Specials and the CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People, as well as the 1979 special A Christmas for Boomer.

When Paramount produced a series of NBC World Premiere movies in the 1970s, Lyles was a producer on several films, including Flight to Holocaust. As recently as 2006, he was credited as a consulting producer on the HBO Western Deadwood.

In his final years, Lyles served as an ambassador at large for the studio, often meeting with visitors and dignitaries who came to the Hollywood lot.

Paramount CEO Brad Grey sent the following memo to the Paramount staff on Monday, September 30:


To: Paramount Employees

From: Brad Grey

It is with deep sadness I share the news that A.C. Lyles passed away this past Friday evening. A true institution at Paramount, A.C. was a man of great talent and elegance, and a legend in our industry.

Proud to be referred to as “Mr. Paramount,” A.C. was the longest serving employee in our studio’s history and a direct link to one of Hollywood’s most storied eras. For a remarkable 85 years, A.C. made Paramount his home, made us his family and always took a moment to share a story that reminded us just how fortunate we are to do the work that we do here.

It was often noted that A.C. had the shortest resume in Hollywood history: Paramount 1928 – 2013. He began his career at Paramount at the age of 10 distributing bumper stickers and handbills for Paramount’s Florida Theater.

As a teenager, A.C. wrote a letter every Sunday for years to Adolf Zukor, founder and head of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, until he secured a job at the studio. It was the era of Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope. A.C. made friends with them all and rose quickly. By the age of 19, A.C. became publicity director and worked on over 70 pictures

He then moved onto producing, first as an associate producer on The Mountain, released in 1954, and then as a full producer Short Cut to Hell, released in 1957.  He went on to produce nine episodes of the TV show Rawhide, and a slate of westerns for Paramount in the 1960s, through his own production company. His most recent work was as consulting producer on the HBO TV series Deadwood, created by David Milch.

Two years ago, when asked during an interview about the longevity of his career and continuing to serve as Paramount’s Ambassador of Good Will, A.C. said: "I can't imagine not doing it. It's just a great, great life."

It will be hard to imagine our lot without A.C. Our thoughts and prayers are with A.C.’s wife, Martha, during this time.


(In lieu of flowers, his family is requesting donations be made to the MPTF Country House Fund.) 


See more about Lyles's life and work at:

Archive of American Television

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