Emmy-Winning TV Producer Bob Banner Dies at 89

By Associated Press on June 16, 2011

LOS ANGELES – Television producer and director Bob Banner, whose credits included the Dinah Shore, Garry Moore and Carol Burnett variety shows as well as the TV movies "The Darker Side of Terror," ''My Sweet Charlie" and "Sea Wolf," has died at age 89.

Banner died Wednesday of Parkinson's disease at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement community in suburban Woodland Hills, family spokeswoman Lauren Cottrell told the Los Angeles Times.

Born in Ennis, Texas, Banner began his career in Chicago in 1948 as a production assistant on the children's puppet show "Kukla, Fran & Ollie."

In a Dallas Morning News interview in 2000, the Northwestern University graduate told of his initial embarrassment at working on the show.

"I didn't want to tell the people at Northwestern that I had been assigned to do a puppet show. ... A puppet show didn't seem quite like theater at Northwestern," Banner said.

When "Kukla" became a hit, however, Banner boasted of his role.

"I went around Northwestern saying I was on 'The Kukla, Fran & Ollie' show," he said. "This show I didn't want to admit I was involved with changed my life."

He later produced and directed "The Fred Waring Show" and went on to be a director on "Omnibus," hosted by Alistair Cooke.

Banner won a directing Emmy in 1958 for "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show."

Banner went on to produce Burnett TV specials, including "Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall" and "Carol Plus Two," before he became executive producer of "The Carol Burnett Show."

Burnett said Banner talked her into opening the show with questions and answers.

"He said, 'Carol, you can't just go out and do sketches. The audience has to get to know you first as a person.' I said, 'I can't do that. I'd be terrified that, A, the audience wouldn't ask anything and, B, that they would.' But he talked me into it, and it became one of my favorite things to do," Burnett said in an interview.

Banner's executive producer credits also included "The Jimmy Dean Show," ''Solid Gold," ''Star Search" and "It's Showtime at the Apollo."

He was also executive producer of the 1988 AIDS benefit concert "That's What Friends Are For," hosted by Dionne Warwick.

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

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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