Family & Companions
A pioneering TV producer and director (also with some credits in theatre and film), Joe Cates began in the medium in the late 1940s, went on to survive the quiz show scandals and produced award-winning and erudite variety specials as well as more egalitarian fare.
Cates was merely 23 when he produced and directed "Look Upon a Star" (1947) with an equally young former Miss America named Bess Myerson. By 1951, he was directing the game show "Down You Go," and, from 1955-58, he produced and directed "The $64,000 Question." Unlike others involved in the scandals surrounding that show and "21," Cates' TV career was not interrupted, although after "Haggis Baggis" (1958-59) he no longer worked in game shows. Instead, Cates made a very strong mark in variety specials. He was producer of "NBC Spectaculars" from 1955-60 and won his first Emmy nomination producing and co-directing (with Gower Champion) "Accent on Love" (1958). Cates also produced specials starring Ethel Merman, Yves Montand, Gene Kelly and Victor Borge. In the 60s, he was executive producer of the NBC series "International Showtime" (1961-64). In 1970, Cates won an Emmy for producing the acclaimed NBC TV special "Anne Bancroft: The Woman in the Life of a Man" and two years later won another Emmy for "Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin." With his brother, Gilbert, Cates produced three annual Johnny Cash specials from 1983-85, and his work in variety culminated with his producing the Tony Award telecasts from 1990-92.
Cates' directing of comedy dates back to "The Jackie Gleason Cavalcade of Stars" (1952), and he has produced numerous TV-movies, including "The Cradle With Fall" (1983), and "The Last Days of Jesse James" (1986). His work in theatre dates to 1963 when he and his brother served as producers of the Broadway production of "Spoon River Anthology." He further produced the 1964 musical "What Makes Sammy Run?," starring Steve Lawrence, and "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" (1968).
Cates' feature film work has been limited. He directed the Warner Bros. release "Girl of the Night" (1960), starring Arlene Francis as a streetwalker telling all to her psychiatrist, and the potboiler "Who Killed Teddy Bear?" (1965), in which Juliet Prowse is a nightclub owner plagued by obscene phone calls. In 1966, Cates directed "The Fat Spy," a Phyllis Diller vehicle, and in 1980 he produced "The Last Married Couple in America," which was directed by his brother Gil.
Producer (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Special)
Misc. Crew (Special)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
Directed and produced early live TV show, "Wish Upon a Star"
Director of game show, "Down You Go"
Made feature film directorial debut, "Girl of the Night"
Produced "Spoon River Anthology" on Broadway
Produced Broadway musical, "What Makes Sammy Run?"
Embroiled in controversy when he negotiated a separate contract with Actors Equity to avoid strike
Produced award-winning TV special starring Anne Bancroft
Produced feature film "The Last Married Couple in America"