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Finding Aid for the Joseph Cates papers, 1963-1995
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joseph Cates papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1963-1995
    Collection number: 298
    Creator: Cates, Joseph, 1924-
    Extent: 42 boxes (21 linear feet)1 carton (1.5 linear feet)1 microfilm box
    Abstract: The career of producer and director Joseph Cates spans from the 1940s to the 1990s. The collection primarily documents Cates' professional accomplishments in the television industry from 1960s to the 1980s and includes production information and scripts for a variety of productions in which Cates was directly involved.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Joseph Cates, 2000.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Joseph Cates papers (Collection 298). Performing Arts Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.


    Joseph Katz was born August 10, 1924 in New York City. After serving as a pilot in the Pacific during World War II, he attended New York University. His career in the entertainment industry started in the 1940s when while working in the advertising field, he conceived a notion to use television as a way to sell candy products. This landed him a contract with Dumont and in 1947, he produced and directed the television talent show Look Upon a Star. During the 1950s he produced and directed a number of game shows, including The $64,000 Question (1955-58) and also worked with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney on Cavalcade of Stars. Cates has also been credited with designing the original set of The Honeymooners and casting Art Carney in the role of Ed Norton.
    Over the course of his television career, Cates wrote, directed, and produced more than 1,000 television specials. These included award ceremonies, circus programs, and musical, comedy and variety specials with the likes of Perry Como, Bill Cosby, Alan King, Steve Martin, Andy Williams and David Copperfield, to name a few. He produced many country music specials during the 1970s and 80s, a number of them with Johnny Cash, and he appears to be the only television producer to be honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame. Cates also earned two Emmys as a producer, for Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man (1970) and ' S Wonderful, S' Marvelous, 'S Gershwin (1972). He produced a number of television movies, such as The Cradle Will Fall and The Last Days of Jesse James. Over the years, Joe Cates' projects were produced under a variety of production company names, including Cates Films Inc, Joseph Cates Company, Inc., and the Cates Brothers Company.
    Cates made the transition to Broadway productions in the 1960s, starting with Spoon River, dramatic readings of poetry by Edgar Lee Masters. Later productions included, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Elmer Gantry, and What Makes Sammy Run (with Steve Lawrence). His feature film credits include The Fat Spy (1966), Girl of the Night (1960), The Last Married Couple in America (1980), and Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965).
    Cates was the father of actress Phoebe Cates and brother of producer/director Gil Cates. Cates died of complications from leukemia on October 10, 1998 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of production files related to the career of producer and director, Joseph Cates. The bulk of the collection includes files for a variety of television projects in which he was directly involved. The files are generally composed of what Cates called production books or playbooks, and contain any one or a combination of the following: scripts, filming schedules, budget information, correspondence, contractual information, music rights and clearances, clippings, and printed ephemera. Additionally, there are a small number of photographs and slides for selected projects.
    Cates' television work covered a wide range of projects consisting of TV specials, made for TV movies, television series, television pilots, and variety shows. Among the body of work in the collection are: International Emmy Awards shows; Country Comes Home; assorted Ford's Theatre annual productions; Johnny Cash country music specials (1970s-1980s); three Steve Martin specials (1978-1980); Robert Klien projects; assorted circus related productions such as Great Circuses of the World (1989); the television movie Special People (1984); and the award winning specials Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man (1970) and 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin (1972).
    Also included in the collection is a small group of material for stage projects thought to be produced by Cates. Included are scripts for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Kiss Me Kate; script and audio reels for Elmer Gantry; clippings and a production contract for Spoon River Anthology; and microfilmed copies of manuscripts for What Makes Sammy Run. Additionally, there are three 45rpm recordings from the motion picture Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965), directed by Cates; and a small amount of material for projects in which Cates' involvement is unknown.
    Notably absent from the collection are materials related to the Cavalcade of the Stars and television game shows which Cates directed in the 1950s, and materials related to his work in motion pictures.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Motion Pictures
    2. Television
    3. Stage Productions
    4. Unknown Projects

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Cates, Joseph, 1924- --Archives.
    Television producers and directors--Archival resources

    Genres and Forms of Material

    television scripts