The mogul's body was found in a parking lot at UCLA, according to reports. He was 77.
Cates was the man behind 14 Academy Awards between 1990 and 2008 and won an Emmy Award for the 1991 telecast.
He also enjoyed many successes on Broadway and directed acclaimed TV movies Consenting Adult and Do You Know the Muffin Man?
Details about his death have not been released.
Meanwhile, comedian Steve Martin, who hosted the Academy Awards in 2001, 2003 and with Alec Baldwin in 2010, has paid tribute to the late producer in a post on Twitter.com.
He writes, "So sorry to hear Gil Cates has died. He helmed two Oscar shows I hosted. He was delightful, wise, canny and unperturbed. A great fellow."
A statement from Tom Sherak, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, reads, "Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy. He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family."