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Colleagues Remember Bud O’Shea, Former MGM/UA Head

24 Jan, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

(L-R): David Bishop, Bud O'Shea, Don Bluth and Ralph Tribbey celebrate the success of 'All Dogs Go To Heaven' in 1990.


Bud O’Shea, former president of MGM/UA Home Video, died Jan. 19 in Phoenix, leaving a legacy of friends and accomplishments in the home entertainment business and beyond. He was 70.

Colleagues remembered O’Shea as one of the more kind and genuine people in the home entertainment business, a pioneer in the digital field and an early proponent of both laserdisc and DVD.

“There are a few points in your life’s journey that have a significant impact, a milepost where you stop, refuel and leave better prepared for the road ahead,” said David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Bud O’Shea created one of those defining moments for all of us that worked for him. He was a man of great integrity and generosity who taught us that hard work can be fun — and in fact should be fun, and that the best way to bring out the best from one’s team in the work place was to treat each person with the dignity and respect that they deserve. He will be greatly missed.”

O’Shea began his entertainment career in the 1960s in San Francisco as a guitarist in the band The Folkswingers, and he started his work behind the scenes in 1964 when he joined Capitol Records, heading up artist relations and promotions for the San Francisco Bay Area. During his time at Capitol the company’s artists included The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Glen Campbell, The Steve Miller Band and Pink Floyd.

In 1969 O’Shea joined CBS Records where he would stay until 1977, leaving as director of marketing in Los Angeles. In 1978, O’Shea helped launch Infinity Records under the MCA Records family, and later that year, he took the post of VP and GM of Infinity.  In 1980 he became VP of marketing for MCA Videocassettes Inc., overseeing all music programming for home entertainment. During that time he also handled marketing for DiscoVision Inc. where he helped introduce the MCA film library on laserdisc.

O’Shea would leave MCA to work for 20th Century Fox, eventually moving on to head MGM/UA Home Video worldwide, where he would become president and COO in mid-1987. While at MGM, O’Shea oversaw the 50th anniversary releases of The Wizard of OZ and Gone with the Wind. Bud would move on to work for Sony Pictures Entertainment in 1995, acting as a liaison within the theatrical division during the company’s transition to DVD.

In 1992, Bud was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which has also been awarded to Sens. Bob Dole and Strom Thurmond and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Norman Horowitz, former president and CEO of MGM/UA Telecommunications, remembers bringing O’Shea on board with MGM/UA, and how unique O’Shea was. “Most of the senior people were MBAs, finance and the like, and when I hired Bud it was really a question of hiring a media guy who people liked, and who liked people,” Horowitz said. “He was as charming as they get, and the people who worked with Bud loved him. I loved him.”

Ralph Tribbey, publisher of The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, said O’Shea “created an environment at MGM/UA Home Video where you could push the boundaries, make some mistakes, learn and grow.  The result was a family, in the truest sense.”

“Years later, you can bump into a former member of this ‘family’ and it is like old home week,” Tribbey said. “How many jobs can you say that about? How many jobs can you say that you enjoyed going to work each day? Lifelong friendships were formed and they were all a direct result of Bud O'Shea's vision, management style, kindness and generosity.”

Publicist Sue Procko credited O’Shea with helping to launch her career. “He was an amazing man with an infectious smile and a great sense of humor,” she said. “He taught me by example how to lead and for that, I’m forever grateful.”

O’Shea is survived by his wife Donna, son Kevin and daughter Heather, and granddaughter Shannon. The family will hold a service in late February in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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