William Self, Fox Exec Whose Hits Included ‘Batman,’ ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies

Producer who joined 20th Century in 1959 suffers heart attack at 89

William Self, whose tenure at the helm of television production at 20th Century Fox produced such hits as "Peyton Place," "Batman" and "M*A*S*H," has died. He was 89.

Self died Monday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering a heart attack on Nov. 11, his daughter, Barbara Malone, told the Los Angeles Times.

Before joining 20 Century Fox Television in 1959, Self produced the "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars" and the "The Frank Sinatra Show." He was also the director of development at CBS, where his first pilot was "The Twilight Zone."

In 15 years at Fox, his shows included "Daniel Boone," "Room 222," "Julia," "Twelve O'Clock High," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," " Lost in Space," "Land of the Giants," "Nanny and the Professor" and "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir."

In a 2002 interview with Starlog magazine (cited by the Times), Self recalled how 20th Century Fox reworked “Batman” after it initially tested so dismally that ABC didn’t want to air it.

"We analyzed it and thought about it, and finally decided the [test audience] didn't know what we were trying to do," he said. "In the original version, those animated 'POW's and 'BAM's [in the fight scenes] and other things like that, were not in the show. We decided we had to say to the audience, 'We're kidding [with] all this. We're having fun. It's a comic strip.' And we re-did the whole post-production on it."

When Self left in 1974, he held titled of president of 20th Century Fox Television and vice president of 20th Century Fox Corporation.

With Mike Frankovich, he produced the films "The Shootist" and "From Noon Till Three."

Self returned to CBS in 1977 as vice president and head of the West Coast, and then became the vice president in charge of television movies and miniseries. In 1982 he became president of CBS Theatrical Film Production. He then created the independent William Self Productions, and produced, with Norman Rosemont, several shows for "Hallmark Hall of Fame," including "Sarah, Plain and Tall."

[Photo via the Hollywood Reporter]