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Albert Dorskind; created Universal Studios tours

LOS ANGELES -- Albert A. Dorskind, the former MCA executive who created the popular Universal Studios tour and spearheaded construction of Universal City, including its amphitheater and multiscreen motion picture complex, died Sunday. He was 82.

Mr. Dorskind, who was vice president of MCA Inc. and president of MCA Development Corp., had prostate cancer, said his son, Jim.

The idea for the studio tour, now one of California's top tourist attractions, was rooted in an MCA problem with the bottom line.

In 1957, Mr. Dorskind had negotiated the company's purchase of 378 acres of the old Universal Studios lot for its Revue Productions. Among the dilapidated buildings was the studio commissary, which was hemorrhaging $100,000 a year.

One Saturday, wandering around the Farmers Market in the Los Angeles Fairfax area, Mr. Dorskind came upon a solution as he watched a Gray Line bus disgorge tourists to have lunch.

Why not, he mused, invite tour buses to drive through the Universal/Revue lot and stop at the commissary during off-peak hours? A price hike of 20 percent for food and charging $1 a head for the privilege of glimpsing a working studio back lot could help MCA get the property out of the red, he figured.

Mr. Dorskind called Gray Line, and the modest tour began. Certain he could reap greater revenue, he soon persuaded MCA chairman Lew Wasserman to invest $4 million to design trams and install restrooms, food courts, and parking lots. The modern Universal Studios tour was inaugurated July 4, 1964.

At the same time he was developing the tour, Mr. Dorskind was reconfiguring the rest of the hilly parcel, particularly after MCA bought Universal Studios in 1961. He hired consultants and razed old structures to build modern office complexes, including the 14-story MCA headquarters.

Next came two hotels, and then entertainment facilities that included the amphitheater, movie complex, and theme park, which today anchor Universal CityWalk, a favorite destination for tourists and locals.

The civic-minded Mr. Dorskind also devoted himself to helping his adopted Los Angeles community expand general tourism and development. He served as president and chairman of the Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau and founding president and chairman of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

Statewide, Mr. Dorskind served on gubernatorial councils on economic development and product design and marketing.

An avid photo collector and amateur photographer, Mr. Dorskind also helped launch the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's photography department in 1984.

A New Yorker by birth, Mr. Dorskind earned bachelor's and law degrees from Cornell University and graduated from Harvard's US Navy Supply Corps School. During World War II, he served in the Pacific with the 32nd Naval Construction Battalion.

After completing his legal training, he began his career working for the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Dorskind came to Los Angeles as an attorney for Paramount Pictures and assistant manager of its television station, KTLA.

When he began his 37-year association with MCA in 1953, he worked for its Revue Productions on such projects as the acquisition of Jack Webb's "Dragnet."

In addition to his son, he leaves his wife of 53 years, Sue; a daughter, DeeDee; a brother, and three grandsons.

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