Otto Spoerri, Retired Academy Controller
Beverly Hills, CA (December 2, 2008) — Otto Spoerri, who served as controller at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1978 until 2002, died on Saturday in his hometown of Zurich, Switzerland. He was 75.
Spoerri oversaw the Academy’s accounting department, but he was better known – and frequently reported about – as the person who determined seating arrangements at the annual Academy Awards® presentation. The Wall Street Journal called him “the ultimate arbiter of industry power,” and the Associated Press referred to him as “the most powerful person in Hollywood.”
Despite the media attention, Spoerri laughed off his annual 15 minutes of fame, saying that the task was really pretty straightforward. “It’s just working with the producer of the broadcast to make sure that where people sit makes the show flow smoothly,” he explained.
Spoerri moved from Zurich to the United States in 1957 and made his way to Hollywood in 1959. His first job was at a sporting goods store on Highland Avenue, a block east of the Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards ceremony has been held since 2002 – the last year that Spoerri was involved with the event. Before coming to work for the Academy, Spoerri held posts at Coast Federal Savings and Loan, Great Western Financial Corporation and Orion Capital Corporation. He worked at the Academy for two years, beginning in 1976, as an accountant before being promoted to controller.
Spoerri is survived by son Michael, daughter-in-law Claudia and granddaughter Ryanne, daughter Christine and grandson Tobby, first wife Rosemarie and second wife Wendy. Private services will be held in Zurich next year.
For more information, contact