Bruce Paltrow, father of Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and writer-producer-director of such classic TV series as The White Shadow and St. Elsewhere, died Wednesday night in Italy. He was 58.
Gwenyth Paltrow's publicist, Stephen Huvane, confirmed that Bruce Paltrow passed away suddenly due to complications from pneumonia and a recurrence of throat cancer.
Paltrow died in Rome, wire reports said. He took ill while traveling Europe with Gwyneth on a holiday to celebrate her 30th birthday, which was September 28.
Actress Blythe Danner, Paltrow's wife of 32 years, was in Los Angeles starring in her new series, Presidio Med, at the time of the death. She has taking a leave of absence from the show (producers say they will shoot around her scenes until she returns in a few weeks) and is reportedly flying to Rome to be with her daughter.
Jake Paltrow, Gwyneth's 27-year-old brother, also a television director, was in New York, working on NYPD Blue.
Bruce Paltrow made his name as the creator and executive producer of the Emmy-winning 1978-81 TV series The White Shadow. The show starred Ken Howard as a white guy (and former NBA star) who becomes a basketball coach at a predominantly black inner-city school.
"He was a family man. He always put his family before his work. For those who worked for him, he was always very supportive," Howard told E!
Paltrow went on to produce St. Elsewhere, the acclaimed 1982-88 NBC medical drama that followed doctors at Boston's St. Eligius hospital and launched the careers of Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon and Ed Begley Jr., among others. The show is seen as a forerunner to ER, as well as Danner's own Presidio Med.
In later years, Paltrow became better known as the father of Gwyneth. The actress gushed about her dad during her teary acceptance speech for the Best Actress Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love in 1999. The two later worked together on the little-seen 2000 movie Duets. (He directed and she starred.)
Born November 26, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, Paltrow attended Tulane University in the early '60s before returning to New York to study art. Not wanting to become a painter, however, Paltrow tried his hand at scenic art off-Broadway.
It was there he met Danner. The two fell in love and moved to Hollywood during the filmmaking renaissance of the 1970s that produced such acclaimed directors as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg--the latter ended up becoming a family friend of the Paltrows, and "Uncle" Steven cast a young Gwyneth as the young Wendy in his 1991 fantasy, Hook.
As Gwyneth grew into the star of the family, she made sure to give credit for her own stardom to her dad's love.
"He's incredibly loving and so supportive and so brilliant and just so funny," Paltrow told E!'s Revealed recently. "So, I just feel really lucky to have him."
Bruce Paltrow was especially supportive of his daughter after her much-publicized breakup with Brad Pitt in 1997. The young stars were to costar in Bruce's Duets that year, but following the split, he allowed Pitt to back out of the movie (thus avoid any potential behind-the-scenes traumas).
Duets eventually was made, but not before it was delayed again--this time due to a medical crisis. In 1999, just before production was due to start, Paltrow was diagnosed with throat cancer. After undergoing radical surgery and radiation, he returned to the set just 13 days later and was reportedly in remission.
"There's some people in your life I think that you feel like if this person wasn't around, I wouldn't make it, you know, and I feel that way about my dad," Gwyneth once said.
Before his death, Bruce Paltrow was purportedly at work on a script about a widower who has two daughters.