LOS ANGELES (May 7, 2012) – SAG-AFTRA released the following statement:
SAG-AFTRA mourns longtime member and past SAG Ralph Morgan Award recipient Yale Summers, 78, who passed away Sunday in Beverly Hills after a long battle with COPD.
Summers joined SAG in 1961 and AFTRA in 1963, and was a committed activist and leader serving on the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors for more than 27 years; on the National Executive Committee for 18 years; as past national recording secretary and past national treasurer; as an emeritus director and a past member SAG Foundation board; and as a trustee of the SAG Pension & Health Funds. For AFTRA, he served on both the Los Angeles Local Board and National Board of Directors for 24 years.
He was a founder, past committee chair and SAG producer of the Screen Actors Guild Awards® and, with Marie Windsor, founded the SAG Hollywood Film Society, which he served as co-chair with Timothy Blake until 2010.
Actor and former SAG President Ed Asner said, "Yale was a good man and a good friend who was totally dedicated to his belief in the union. He was completely unbiased and never took sides. He had a purist vision of how the guild should be run and wasn't swayed by the influence of special interest groups. He put the best interest of the guild and union first. I'm deeply sorry for his passing."
SAG Foundation President JoBeth Williams and chair of the SAG Awards Show Committee added, "The SAG Foundation and the SAG Awards Show Committee mourn the loss of Yale Summers, who meant so much to us. Yale was one of the founding members and served on the SAG Foundation Board from its inception in 1985, including a number of years as its treasurer. He also served on the SAG Awards Show Committee for fifteen years, thirteen of those as chairman. His contribution to his fellow actors through these organizations and the Guild itself, was immeasurable."
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White said, “It was a privilege to know and work with Yale Summers. He brought so many good things to our members and through these remarkable programs, his influence is still felt in tangible ways. From the SAG Awards to the Film Society, Yale’s contributions continue to affect members and a part of him will remain with SAG-AFTRA. We offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Suzie, his son Jordan, daughter Jolie and his grandchildren.”
Summers was born an only child on July 26, 1933 in Manhattan to Joseph and Edlie Neuvohner. A gifted student, he ultimately graduated with honors from Cornell University in 1955 and served as a lieutenant in the United States Army.
With his military service behind him and armed with a Cornell business degree, Summers was discovered by Norman Lear in the Sands Hotel swimming pool while vacationing with his parents in Las Vegas. After signing with Paramount, his first professional appearance was as a gambler in the film Mad Dog Coll and was soon followed by a number of other television roles including his breakout as Dr. Bob Ayres on the daytime serial General Hospital. A familiar fixture on television throughout the '60s, Summers is perhaps most notable for his roles as Jack Dane in the popular primetime series Daktari! and as Rodney Harrington in Return to Peyton Place.
Summers is survived by his wife Suzie Summers, their children Jordan Summers and Jolie Summers Garwood, and two grandchildren Cole and Jonah Summers.
Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced shortly.
SAG-AFTRA represents more than 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit SAG-AFTRA online at SAGAFTRA.org.