Ukrainian-born Louis Winogradsky moved to England with his family as a child, settling in the East End of London. Here he took up the family trade of tailoring at the age of 14.
He also became a champion tap dancer, winning the world solo Charleston championship in 1926. During a ten-year career as a professional dancer around the variety halls, including performing at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France, he changed his name to Grade.
Grade soon began fostering the careers of other performers and in 1943, he became a theatrical agent with his brother Leslie and founded the Grade Organisation.
In the 1950s, when commercial television was still in its infancy in Britain, he invested heavily in shares of ATV (Associated Television).
Through ATV – and it’s subsidiary production companies ITC and AP Films – Grade dominated British commercial television for the next 20 years, launching such popular programs as Crossroads, The Saint, Thunderbirds, Sunday Night At The London Palladium (which topped the weekend ratings from 1955 to 1967), and The Muppet Show – one of his biggest worldwide hits which sold in 112 countries.
Grade’s path crossed with The Beatles in 1969 when ATV Music Publishing bought a majority share in Northern Songs (the company established by Brian Epstein which owned nearly all of The Beatles’ catalogue).
After a fierce battle, Grade and ATV won control of the company while controlling any other songs written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon between 1964 and 1971. George Harrison and Ringo Starr broke from Northern Songs prior to Grade’s acquisition.
ATV retained control of Northern Songs until 1985 when the company sold the songs to Michael Jackson.
In 1976 he relinquished his chairmanship of ATV, to move into the motion picture industry. His films include The Boys From Brazil (1978), Sophie’s Choice (1982), the popular Pink Panther films, and the box-office disaster, Raise the Titanic (1980).
He was knighted in 1969 and in 1976 he became a life peer.
He passed away on 13 December 1998.