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Brandon Tartikoff’s Letters Donated to USC

George Lucas convinced the late television executive’s family to donate more than 4,000 pieces of correspondence

The family of Brandon Tartikoff — the youngest programming chief in NBC history — has donated the late television and film executive's collection of correspondence and effects to the University of Southern California, the school said Monday.

George Lucas, a USC alumnus and benefactor, had urged Tartikoff's widow, Lilly Tartikoff, to make the donation. Lilly Tartikoff will officially present the documents to Lucas in a USC School of Cinematic Arts ceremony in the fall.

"We are very grateful to Lilly Tartikoff for this unique and generous gift," Lucas said in a written statement. "It is a staggering collection for students of television and popular culture, providing rare insight into the mind andachievements of arguably one of the most prominent and influential creative executives in television history."

The collection includes more than 4,000 pieces of correspondence that Tartikoff sent and received between 1979 and 1992.

According to USC, the letters pertain "to programming and project evaluations during his storied reign at NBC, as well as personal correspondences, such as letters of congratulations to then new morning show host David Letterman."

The letters have been unavailable to the public since Tartikoff died in 1997 from Hodgkin's Disease.

"Brandon would be delighted to know that his papers were being made available to SCA students," Lilly Tartikoff said in a written statement. "He was in many ways a teacher himself, and loved sharing his experiences in this business with others coming up the ranks."

Tartikoff brought NBC from the No. 3 to the No. 1 network and is credited for the original concepts and blueprints of "The Cosby Show," "Miami Vice," "The Golden Girls," "The A-Team" and "Hill Street Blues."