×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Migden, former SAG topper, dies

Negotiated contracts; gains benefited many thesps

Chester L. Migden, a former executive director of the Screen Actors Guild who helped devise the principle of paying actors residuals for television reruns, died Sunday after a heart attack. He was 78 years old.

At SAG, Migden — known to his friends as Chet — negotiated contracts for performers in films, TV and commercials, as well as all agency franchise agreements. The gains and benefits he negotiated remain the cornerstone of the guild’s collective bargaining agreements.

In 1974, when Migden first served as SAG’s chief negotiator, he sat down across the table from Lew Wasserman, who at the time represented the producers, and achieved a breakthrough by establishing TV residuals in perpetuity.

“The contracts negotiated under Chet’s leadership improved the lot of actors a dozen times over,” said Ken Orsatti, SAG’s national exec director, who worked with Migden for 21 years.

When Migden joined SAG in 1952, it had 9,600 members and offices in three cities. Thirty years later, when he left, the guild had more than 50,000 members and branches in 15 cities.

“Chet Migden oversaw the transition of the Screen Actors Guild from an intimate Hollywood organization to the national, multi-faceted union that the guild has become today,” said SAG president Richard Masur.

In 1982, Migden became exec director of the Assn. of Talent Agents, a position he held until he retired in 1996.

Born in New York on May 21, 1921, Migden served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Migden graduated from Columbia Law School in 1947, and worked at the National Labor Relations Board before coming to SAG in 1952, as administrator of the guild’s Agency Division.

Migden served on the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s board of trustees for 25 years. He was also vice president of the California State Labor Federation and vice president of the Intl. Federation of Actors.

Migden is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Dina, and daughters Barbara Rosenberg, Amy Olsson and Ann Widdifield. The latter is an assistant exec director of the Writers Guild. A granddaughter, Lisa Ann Olsson, also survives him.

The family requests donations be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund. A memorial tribute will be held at noon on June 1, at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content