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George Kaufman, ‘visionary’ mogul behind Astoria Studios, dead at 89

“He understood deep in his bones the importance of investing in New York’s communities,” said Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of Kaufman Astoria Studios.

George Kaufman played a key role in transforming

George Kaufman played a key role in transforming the old Paramount studios in Queens into the Kaufman Astoria Studios of today. Photo Credit: Getty Images for Exploring The A / Larry Busacca

George Kaufman, who helped transform the old Paramount Studios site in Queens into the booming Kaufman Astoria Studios, died Tuesday at the age of 89.

Hit shows and films including “Sesame Street,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “The Affair,” have been filmed at the sprawling complex which sits near the Long Island City and Astoria border.

Kaufman, a real estate developer, was born in Pittsburgh and lived in New York City. A veteran of the Korean War, he received degrees from Ohio State University and New York University.

His family-owned company owns or manages almost 50 properties in the New York City area — however, he is probably best known for his role in creating Kaufman Astoria Studios in the 1980s, and helping to revive New York City’s film industry in the following years.

That site now includes over 500,000-square-feet of sound stages, production office and service space as well as a backlot.

“George was so much more than a real estate developer,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Kaufman Astoria Studios. “He understood deep in his bones the importance of investing in New York’s communities because they are the very foundation of the city’s greatness. He was a visionary who saw the promise of film and television production work in New York long before it became an integral part of the city’s economy.”

The studios are the cornerstone of the Kaufman Arts District, which includes the Museum of the Moving Image.

Kaufman is survived by his wife, Mariana, and daughter, Cynthia. Funeral services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 26 at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

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