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(Reuters) - Brad Grey, the former chairman and chief executive of Paramount Pictures, has died at age 59 of cancer, his family said on Monday, just three months after being forced out of his Hollywood job.
His death shocked Hollywood, with few people in the industry apparently aware that he had been ill with cancer.
Grey, who led Paramount Pictures for 12 years, was forced to step down in February after years of underperforming movies from the studio including "Ben-Hur" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows."
"Brad passed away yesterday evening at his home in Holmby Hills, CA with his family by his side. The cause of death was cancer. He was 59 years old," Grey's family said in a brief statement on Monday.
Grey was regarded as one of the most successful producers in Hollywood, with a hand in shows like HBO's crime series "The Sopranos," "Real Time with Bill Maher" and Oscar-winning films including "The Departed" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
No details were given about his cancer, which was not mentioned during his ouster from Paramount, and the news of his death took many by surprise.
"Shocked &saddened by the loss of Brad Grey. He was a really good man. Kind &classy and a helluva boss. Oh man the world has lost a gentleman," wrote "Step Up 2" director Jon M. Chu on Twitter.
"He was always good to me, in the small passing moments we had. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones," tweeted "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn.
"Modern Family" co-creator Steve Levitan said he was "so sad to hear about the passing of Brad Grey. He was a thoughtful partner on 'Just Shoot Me' and remained a friend."
Grey joined Paramount in 2005 and during his tenure the studio produced or distributed hit films including “Transformers: Dark of the Moon", as well as the "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible" franchises.
He also co-founded Plan B Entertainment with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, through which he produced "The Departed."
During his tenure at Paramount, Grey was responsible for a seven-year marketing distribution deal with Marvel and the 2008 acquisition of DreamWorks SKG for $1.6 billion. But the studio struggled in recent years and in February Grey and Paramount parted ways.
In March, former Twenty-First Century Fox film studio chief Jim Gianopulos was hired to run Paramount Pictures, which is a unit of Viacom Inc(VIAB.O).
Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Frances Kerry