TV Media Journalist/Historian Morrie Gelman Dies At 90

TV media journalist and historian Morrie Gelman died Aug. 26 in Palm Desert, Calif., of heart failure at age 90 with his family at his side.

During his nearly 50-year career, Gelman reported news as a journalist at prestigious big-city newspapers during their heydays, and then transitioned to business magazines as they ascended on the media landscape. He was employed at multiple leading consumer-focused and trade publications including Variety, Daily Variety, Broadcasting & Cable, the New York Post and Advertising Age. He worked initially in New York and then in Los Angeles, retiring in 2000.

As a journalist, he chronicled the rise of television broadcasting and later the cable TV revolution, providing insight and vision in thousands of bylined articles. Colleagues remember him as a man without pretensions covering the media industry populated by many overbearing personalities, a steadying influence in newsrooms that were volatile, a deep thinker about industry shifts, and a caring and well-liked co-worker.

Born Morris Gelman in Brooklyn, he began his work career in the New York City mailroom of the Mutual Broadcasting System radio network in 1948. After two years in the Army, he worked five years at the New York Post as an assistant to famed nationally-syndicated columnist Earl Wilson and later as a police reporter. He also was a journalist at the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper.

He continued his career as features editor at Theater Magazine, a national monthly, and was a member of the Drama Critics Circle. Later, he was editorial director at United Business Publications and Japanese publisher Dempa Publications.

Gelman spent 12 years as senior correspondent for weekly trade bible Broadcasting magazine (now Broadcasting & Cable), was West Coast bureau chief for Advertising Age, where he helped establish its print weekly trade magazine Electronic Media (later known as TV Week). He also worked as a senior writer for 10 years for the daily and weekly editions of Variety.


As a historian, Gelman was one of the chief interviewers for the Archive of American Broadcasting at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He ran his own marketing and media research firm in the 1990s and published the book, The Best in Television, 50 Years of Emmys. Gelman also wrote for Animation Magazine.

He is survived by Marisa, his wife of 65 years; two sons; and two grandchildren.

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