Lee Rich, Producer of ‘The Waltons’ and ‘Dallas,’ Dies

Lee said founding Lorimar was his greatest career accomplishment

Lee Rich, the Emmy-winning TV and film executive who produced such shows as "The Waltons," "Eight Is Enough" and "Dallas," has died. He was 93.

Rich, who was also the former chairman and chief executive of MGM/UA Communications, said he considered his greatest accomplishment to be co-founding Lorimar, which produced the shows. It  went on to produce "Family Matters," "Full House" and "Perfect Strangers," among other series.

Rich started in television at the advertising agency Benton & Bowles, where he helped package and sell both "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Danny Thomas Show." In 1965 he left to start his own production company, Mirisch-Rich Productions, which produced such shows as "The Rat Patrol" and one of the first Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson shows, "Hey, Landlord."

He co-founded Lorimar in 1969, which also produced television movies including "Sybil" and "Helter Skelter." He talked about the company's early days in a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television.

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Gesturing toward his wife, he said, "She and I took it from the beginning and built it to … the largest supplier of network television that there was, just for a little independent company."

Story continues after video of the Archive of American Television interview:

He said he saw it as a place where creative people could be happy. "That gave me a great deal of joy," he said.

He was nominated for five Emmys and won for producing "The Waltons" in 1973.

Rich left Lorimar in 1986 and presided over MGM-UA from then until to 1988, greenlighting "A Fish Called Wanda," "Rain Man" and "Moonstruck" during his tenure there. He later produced films including "Passenger 57" and "The Score."


"Lee Rich was an indelible talent who helped to shape the television landscape," said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officers of MGM in a statement. "We are incredibly proud that MGM is a part of his legacy. Lee's role as Chairman and CEO of MGM/UA and the prolific body of work he created throughout his career continue to inspire the work we do today."