Bob Banner, Emmy-Winning Producer, Dies at 89

He began his career as a production assistant on “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” and executive produced “Solid Gold,” “Star Search,” “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” among others

Last Updated: June 15, 2011 @ 8:17 PM

Bob Banner, who won an Emmy for directing "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" in 1958 and was executive producer of television programs including "Candid Camera," "Solid Gold" and "Star Search," died Wednesday of Parkinson's Disease. He was 89.

Banner lived at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement community in Los Angeles.

He began his career as a production assistant on "Kukla, Fran & Ollie," the puppet show for children. At the time, he was a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University in Chicago. He then became a floor manager on "Garroway-At-Large," and then director of the show.

Over the years, he helped launch the career of Carol Burnett — he made her a regular on his "Dinah Shore Show" and ultimately was executive producer of "The Carol Burnett Show" — and executive produced "That's What Friends Are For," the AIDS benefit concert at the Kennedy Center in 1988.

His most recent credit was the 1997 television series "Real Kids, Real Adventures," which he executive produced.

In the late 1960s, he produced "My Sweet Charlie," starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and Bonnie Bedelia on Broadway. In 1989 and 1994, he toured a production of the play "Joy Ride: The True Story of Grandma Moses," starring Cloris Leachman.

In 1999, he said during an interview with the Archive of American Television that he'd like to be remembered by his colleagues as "someone who was in the early days struggling in the medium and working with it. We were all trying to find our way, and the joy of working with some of them — the nicest people I've ever known."

He said that "so many of the people in my hometown in Texas think of Hollywood as being a place where people go out by the pool to work and they don't spend time and they're not really imaginative."

But, he said, "I found that the people I have worked with out here have been among the brightest, most informed, hardest-working people that I could imagine."

Banner, who earned an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in 1943, and a master's from Northwestern, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

In a written statement, John Shaffner, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, said, "Bob was a true television legend. Over a long and elegant career he produced much memorable programming. He mentored so many of us, educating and encouraging young people to enter the television profession, including myself so many years ago. The television community has lost one its founders, and it is a deep personal loss for many of us. We will remember him with fondness and gratitude.”

Banner is survived by his wife, Alice; his sons Baird, Robert and Chuck and two grandchildren.