Chicago Sun Times
By Maureen O’Donnell
They might not have been “La La Land” or “Rogue One,” but the movies Albert J. Nader wrote, produced or packaged bloomed into a library totaling more than 5,000 titles, many of them hardy perennials of the video world now available through online streaming.
Mr. Nader, who grew up near Wrigley Field and lived on Lake Shore Drive, died Dec. 22 from a suspected aortic aneurysm or heart attack on a family vacation in Palm Springs, California, said his wife, Gemma Allen Nader. He was 84.
He founded Questar, a Michigan Avenue company that produces, acquires and distributes video programming under the slogan “Everything in the World Worth Watching.”
inRead invented by Teads
From nature to history to baseball, Questar offered videos and then DVDs, Blu-Rays and streaming video with appeal to both mass audiences and niche markets, like “Where Jesus Walked,” “My Classic Car,” “Best of Minnie Pearl” and “The Original Flash Gordon.”
Then, there are its animal features: “First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story,” “Running of the Bulls” (Live from Pamplona Spain) and “All God’s Creatures. . . .There When You Need Them!”
Its hipper fare includes chef Anthony Bourdain’s Food Network show, “A Cook’s Tour.”
After visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum, he added great air battles to Questar’s catalogue.
“He saw opportunity everywhere,” Gemma Allen Nader said.
Thanks to multiple generations of TV watchers and armchair travelers, what Mr. Nader packaged never stopped selling. Some of Questar’s most popular videos feature Victor Borge, Andy Williams and Bobby Darin, as well as great railway vacations, famous baseball stadiums and national parks. Its Civil War videos combined historic re-enactments with new travel footage.
“He caught the wave of home video and then DVDs and turned it into one of the largest producers of independent, special-interest programming,” said Dennis Burkhart, an Oregon filmmaker who has worked for National Geographic.
After Mr. Nader contacted him with an idea about filming national parks, they collaborated on 30 one-hour programs.
71nziz7syol-_sy445_Mr. Nader, who was active with Moody Church, also developed video programming with inspirational and religious themes. A program he helped create for the former Pax TV channel, “It’s a Miracle,” with host Richard Thomas, is still in distribution.
Questar gained its footing with gorgeous photography and voiceovers from stars including Shari Belafonte, Peter Coyote, Jeff Daniels, Richard Kiley, Joe Mantegna, Martin Sheen and James Whitmore.
Mr. Nader guided Questar through changing technology, his wife said. Its videos are available on Hulu, Roku, Amazon and Netflix.
His company also produced programs for the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the Travel Channel and PBS, and it streams educational programming to classrooms on math, ocean life and historical figures such as Sacagawea.
Mr. Nader grew up on the North Side, attended Blaine grade school and played baseball and basketball for Lake View High School. His Assyrian father, Joshua, immigrated from Iran and married Olga, a Chicago woman of Assyrian heritage. The father operated a tailor shop near the Biograph Theater. Mr. Nader graduated from DePaul University and served in the Marines as a first lieutenant, according to his wife.
Earlier in his career, he worked for Sears, Montgomery Ward and Rand McNally, where he helped develop films, globes, maps and textbooks for libraries and schools. He also co-founded an ad agency, Nader-Lief.
In 1978, he started Questar, though his wife said naysayers told him, “What are you thinking? Everyone’s got a TV.”
“He said, ‘No, I think videos are something people want to collect,’ ” she said.
Mr. Nader wrote scripts or assembled teams to put together travel movies. Later, the company expanded its catalogue to history and baseball.
When he compiled videos on stars, their families and estate lawyers “would entrust things to Albert,” his wife said. “Albert was very charismatic and 100 percent trustworthy, and his Chicago roots were part of that. He’d start out with a cold call and end up with a relationship.”
And he understood a basic fact of his business, she said: “You have to be a really faithful royalty-payer.”
The Naders met in 1995 after he lost his first wife, Barbara, to breast cancer.
Questar will continue, she said: “He had a great team in place.”
Mr. Nader is also survived by a daughter Page Weissmann, son Jason Nader, stepdaughter Bridget Wiley and stepson Sean Hagerty. A memorial service — featuring video about Mr. Nader — is planned for 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at Moody Church, 1635 N. LaSalle. His six grandchildren plan to wear blue blazers and white pocket squares — his signature lo
NADER, Albert J.
Born: 8/1/1932, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 12/22/2016, Palm Springs, California, U.S.A.
Albert J. Nader’s westerns – producer:
America’s Greatest Indian Leaders – 1994
Sacagawea - 2003