Throughout 2011, TVNewsCheck reported the deaths of outstanding men and women who shaped television as actors, lawmakers, producers, business people, journalists and on-air personalities. Here they are in chronological order of their passing as Part III of our Year in Review Special Report.
Don Kirshner, the rock music promoter, died Jan. 17. He also produced the syndicated Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert from 1973 to 1981, which gave national exposure to musicians including Billy Joel and The Police as well as comics including Billy Crystal, Arsenio Hall and David Letterman. He was 76.
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru whose Jack LaLanne Show was a television staple from 1951 to 1985, died Jan. 24. On his show, LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set to exercise. He was 96.
Bill Monroe, a Washington journalist best known for moderating the NBC Sunday talk show Meet the Press during the 1970s and ’80s, died Feb. 17. He later became Washington editor of the Today show and won a prestigious Peabody award for his work. He also served as president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He was 90.
Barry Ackerley, former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics and former chairman and CEO of the Ackerley Group, died March 22. The Ackerley Group owned 18 TV stations in California, Colorado, Oregon, New York and Alaska. He was 76.
Dawson “Tack” Nail, long-time executive editor of Warren Communications News’s Television Digest and Communications Daily, died March 25. He arrived in Washington in 1955 with Broadcasting magazine, then moved to Television Digest in 1964, where he stayed until his semi-retirement. The dean of reporters covering the communications industry, Nail continued as a regular contributor until his death. He was 82.
David Smith, president and CEO of Mission Broadcasting, died March 28. Mission owns 16 stations — based mostly in smaller markets in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Texas — but they are operated by Nexstar Broadcasting as part of duopolies. He was 55.
Larry Fraiberg, president of Group W TV Stations from 1980 to 1986, died March 26. Fraiberg was named VP-GM of WTTG Washington in 1963, which began his long career in local television management. He subsequently served as VP-GM of WNEW New York from 1965 to 1969 (and again from 1971 to 1977), president of Metromedia from 1977 to 1979, and then president of Group W TV Stations, the local television division of Westinghouse. He was 89.
Madelyn Pugh Davis, a writer who collaborated with partner Bob Carroll Jr. on the groundbreaking series I Love Lucy in the 1950s and continued to work with Lucille Ball over four decades, died April 20. She was 90.
Hubert J. “Hub” Schlafly Jr., a television engineer who aided countless politicians and performers when he helped invent the scrolling public-speaking crutch known as a teleprompter, died April 20. He was 91.
Jeff Gralnick, who worked for ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, died May 9. Gralnick spent 20 years at ABC and most recently was a consultant to NBC News President Steve Capus. Earlier at NBC, he served for three years an executive producer of the NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, helping make the broadcast the top-rated evening news show. He was 72.
Burt Reinhardt, a former CNN president credited with helping to build the global news network, died May 10. He oversaw the creation of several of CNN’s most prominent shows, including Larry King Live and Crossfire. He also arranged for CNN to charge other news organizations to reuse CNN’s on-air news pieces. Reinhardt remained with CNN in several capacities until his retirement in 2003. He was 91.
Joseph Wershba, a CBS News producer and reporter who was one of the original 60 Minutes producers and who worked on Edward R. Murrow’s Joe McCarthy expose in 1954, died May 14. He was 90.
James Arness, the actor whose portrayal of U.S. Marshal Dillon in the 1955-75 CBS Western series created an indelible portrait of a quiet, heroic man with an unbending dedication to justice and the town he protected, died June 3. He was 88.
Peter Falk, star of NBC’s Columbo, died June 23. He won four Emmys for his portrayal of the rumpled TV detective, as well as Oscar nominations for his first two films. He was 83.
Sherwood Schwartz, writer-creator of two of the best-remembered TV series of the 1960s and 1970s, Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, died July 12. He was 94.
Bruce Sundlun, the former broadcaster who served two tumultuous terms as governor of Rhode Island in the early 1990s, died July 21. Earlier, he ran Outlet Communcations, a station group whose flagship was WJAR Providence and which was bought by NBC in 1996. He was 91.
Bud Grant, a former CBS Entertainment president, died July 1. Grant joined CBS in 1972 as a daytime programmer before moving into primetime in 1977 and becoming president in 1980 until 1987. CBS hits during that time included The Dukes of Hazzard, WKRP in Cincinnati and Murder, She Wrote. He was 79.
Elmer Lower, president of ABC News from 1963 to 1974, died July 26. Under his tenure, ABC News grew from 250 to 750 employees, and the evening news expanded from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Lower also was behind the network’s hiring of broadcasting greats including Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Frank Reynolds and Sam Donaldson. He was 98.
Carolyn Chambers, founder-CEO of Chambers Communications, which owns four Oregon stations — KEZI, KOHD, KDRV and KDKF — died Aug. 8. She was also the founder of cable operator Liberty Communications which was sold in 1983 to John Malone for $186 million. She was 79.
Earl Arbuckle, the senior VP of engineering at Fox Television Stations, died Aug. 29. He was responsible for implementing the transition to digital broadcasting and HDTV at all 27 of the Fox owned stations. Arbuckle was 61.
Arthur C. Nielsen Jr., who transformed the company his father founded in 1923 into an international leader in market research, helping to make its name synonymous with television ratings, died Oct. 3. He was 92.
Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. co-founder died Oct. 5. Jobs helped change computers from a geeky hobbyist’s obsession to a necessity of modern life at work and home, and in the process he upended not just personal technology but the cellphone and music industries. He was 56.
Norman Corwin, a creative giant of the Golden Age of Radio whose programs chronicling World War II are milestones in broadcasting, died Oct. 18. Throughout the 1940s, Corwin was well known to millions of Americans who depended on radio for their link to the world. His work ran the gamut of creative offerings, from variety shows to dramas, comedies to documentaries. During a career that spanned more than 70 years, Corwin wrote, produced and directed for radio, television, film and the stage. He was 101.
Robert Pierpoint, a CBS correspondent who covered six presidents, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination and the Iranian hostage crisis in a career that spanned more than four decades, died Oct. 22. Pierpoint became a White House correspondent during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, a position he would hold through the Jimmy Carter administration. He was 86.
Dan Burke, whose exceptional broadcasting career took him from general manager of WTEN Albany, N.Y., to president and CEO of Capital Cities/ABC Inc., died Oct. 26. After building Capital Cities into a major station group, he and longtime partner Tom Murphy bought ABC. Together, they ran CapCities/ABC for 10 years before selling it in 1996 to Disney. He was 82.
Andy Rooney, the popular 60 Minutes commentator, died Nov. 4, only a month after delivering his 1,097th and final televised commentary. Rooney was a freelance writer in 1949 when he encountered CBS radio star Arthur Godfrey in an elevator and — with the bluntness millions of people learned about later — told him his show could use better writing. Godfrey hired him and by 1953, when he moved to TV, Rooney was his only writer. He wrote for CBS’s Garry Moore during the early 1960s before settling into a partnership with Harry Reasoner at CBS News. Rooney left CBS in 1970 when it refused to air his angry essay about the Vietnam War. He went on TV for the first time, reading the essay on PBS and winning a Writers Guild of America award for it. He returned to CBS three years later as a writer and producer of specials, joining 60 Minutes and airing his first commentary on July 2, 1978. He was 92.
Hal Bruno, a pioneer of political journalism, helped guide ABC’s political coverage through most of the 1980s and ’90s, before leaving in 1999. He was 83.
Harry Morgan, one of the best-known character actors in Hollywood, most famous for his portrayal of the fatherly Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H, died Dec. 7. He was 96.
To read Parts I and II, which covered the year’s developments in business, regulatory, programming, journalism and new media, click here.