Key grip won tech Academy Award for crane

Key grip Richard “Dicky” Deats, who won a Technical Achievement Academy Award for the design and manufacture of the “Little Big Crane” for motion picture production, died in Whitefish, Mont., on July 14. He was 66.

Born in Southern California, Dicky joined his father as a second generation Local 80 grip in 1964.

He received his Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 1982; his “Little Big Crane” was the first portable film crane.

Cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond and Caleb Deschanel almost exclusively used Dicky as their key grip on films including “The Black Dahlia,” “National Treasure,” “The Patriot,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” “Maverick,” “The River,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Heaven’s Gate.”

Dicky worked with directors including Brian De Palma, Clint Eastwood, Roland Emmerich, William Friedkin, Taylor Hackford, Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Jon Turteltaub and Irwin Winkler.

Dicky is survived by two sons, Jerry, also a key grip, and Jimmy; a daughter, writer-producer Danyi; three brothers; and 10 grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles.

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