Bob Finkel

Producer/ Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive Interview, Bob Finkel (1918-2012) talks about the countless musical variety and awards shows he directed and produced. He describes directing the first televised telethon, hosted by Jack Webb, and producing multiple broadcasts of The People's Choice Awards, Oscars, and Emmy Awards. Finkel recounts producing numerous hits of the 1950s and 1960s, including The Eddie Fisher Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and The Andy Williams Show. He fondly recalls working with Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Julie Andrews, and Martin and Lewis, among others, and shares his views on why variety shows all but disappeared from the airwaves. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview on September 10, 1997 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"Reality. That's television at its best. When that little bug rolled around on Mars – you can't do a show any better than that.  I mean, if you went to the networks and said, 'I want to do a show with a little cart that rolls up and down on the rocks,' they'd throw you out."

Highlights
Bob Finkel on Eddie Fisher and the smoking chimpanzees
01:57
Bob Finkel on the mistake that made The Perry Como Show popular - a stubborn canary
Bob Finkel on Bing Crosby and thank you notes
01:42
Bob Finkel on Elvis Presley's comeback special, and no live audience
01:02
Bob Finkel on how he'd like to be remembered
00:50
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on working as an usher in his father's nickelodeon; on becoming a semi-professional tap dancer; on his favorite movies and radio programs
On moving to California to be a movie director; on writing television Westerns for Republic Films; on serving in World War II and getting married

Chapter 2

On getting married and working in a theater; on being fascinated by television and getting a job with ABC LA
On becoming a director's assistant and then director; on directing the first televised Emmy Awards broadcast
On leaving ABC to work for Revue (MCA); on forming his own production company, Teram Productions

Chapter 3

On directing Bob Cummings in Love That Bob; on directing Natalie Wood in Pride of the Family;  on directing Kim Basinger in MacMillan and Wife
On his preparation for production; on leaving MCA for NBC; on producing The Perry Como Show

Chapter 4

On the writers and guests of The Perry Como Show; on working in New York v. Los Angeles
On The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Eddie Fisher Show  and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show; on Bing Crosby's Christmas specials
On his production company; on The Andy Williams Show

Chapter 5

On the disastrous first season of The Andy Williams Show and subsequent changes; on producing and directing Emmy Awards broadcasts; on Bob Newhart's instant fame after appearing on The Emmys
On leaving The Andy Williams Show ; On having creative control of The Jerry Lewis Show; on winning a Peabody Award for a Julie Andrews special
On producing the Oscars; on the disappearance of music/variety shows

Chapter 6

On the disappearance of variety shows; on working with Elvis Presley on his comeback special; on Bill Cosby and The People's Choice Awards; on his relationship with Bing Crosby; on working with Muhammad Ali
On producing the Oscars; on his career regrets and the problems of re-running variety shows; on reality programming and episodic television
On his career highs; on the future of television; on longing for the days of single sponsorship; on how he'd like to be remembered; on thoughts on people with whom he's worked

Chapter 7

On thoughts on people with whom he's worked; on his wife
On his involvement with The Golden Globe Awards; B-roll of pictures - his family and people with whom he's worked

Chapter 8

On B-roll photos of colleagues and family
Shows

Andy Williams Show, The

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Bob Finkel on Tony Bennett appearing on The Andy Williams Show
02:15
Bob Finkel on The Andy Williams Show
02:14
Bob Finkel on The Andy Williams Show
04:11
Bob Finkel on leaving The Andy Williams Show
01:13

Bing Crosby Specials

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Bob Finkel on his friendship with Bing Crosby as a result of producing Crosby's Christmas specials
03:18

Bob Cummings Show, The aka Love That Bob

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Bob Finkel on directing Love That Bob
02:21

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Bob Finkel on a picture of Martin and Lewis 
00:55

Dean Martin Show, The

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Bob Finkel on Greg Garrison's involvement with The Dean Martin Show
00:56

Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The

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Bob Finkel on The Dinah Shore Chevy Shore
07:23
Bob Finkel on a picture of him with Dinah Shore and the crew of The Dinah Shore Show
01:02

Eddie Fisher Show, The

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Bob Finkel on troubleshooting The Eddie Fisher Show
05:54

Golden Globe Awards, The

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Bob Finkel on his involvement with The Golden Globe Awards
02:09

Jerry Lewis Show, The (1967-69)

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Bob Finkel on creating/producing The Jerry Lewis Show
04:56

Julie Andrews Specials

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Bob Finkel on a picture of Julie Andrews Specials
00:59

McMillan & Wife

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Bob Finkel on directing Kim Basinger in MacMillan and Wife
00:27
Bob Finkel on directing MacMillan and Wife
02:21

Mysteries of Chinatown

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Bob Finkel on mishaps during the live presentation of Mysteries of Chinatown
02:24

People's Choice Awards

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Bob Finkel on producing The People's Choice Awards and working with Bill Cosby
01:53
Bob Finkel on a picture of Bill Cosby at The People's Choice Awards
01:14

Perry Como Show, The

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Bob Finkel on producing The Perry Como Show, in color
08:05
Bob Finkel on the writers and guests of The Perry Como Show
02:39
Bob Finkel on the guests of The Perry Como Show
02:32

Pride of the Family

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Bob Finkel on directing Natalie Wood in Pride of the Family
02:37

Ted Knight Musical Comedy Variety Special, The

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Bob Finkel on a picture of The Ted Knight Musical Comedy Variety Special
00:58

Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The

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Bob Finkel on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show
02:19
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Bob Finkel on directing the first televised Emmy Awards broadcast
03:44
Bob Finkel on The Andy Williams Show winning Emmy Awards
00:46
Bob Finkel on producing and directing Emmy broadcasts, and winning an Emmy while producing the Emmys
06:11
Bob Finkel on what he learned from producing and directing Emmy broadcasts, and applying it to other Awards broadcasts
00:51

Technological Innovation

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Bob Finkel on his experience with color television
02:42
Professions

Directors

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Bob Finkel on directing commercial films in Pittsburgh
00:31
Bob Finkel on filling in as a director in an emergency - his big break in directing
02:07
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Bob Finkel on The Perry Como Show
05:23
Bob Finkel on troubleshooting The Eddie Fisher Show
05:54
Bob Finkel on The Dinah Shore Chevy Shore
07:23
Bob Finkel on The Andy Williams Show
02:14
Bob Finkel on the disappearance of music/variety shows
01:25
Bob Finkel on creating/producing The Jerry Lewis Show
04:56
Bob Finkel on the difficulties of residuals for variety shows 
04:01
People

Goodman Ace

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Bob Finkel on the writers of The Perry Como Show
01:48

Muhammad Ali

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Bob Finkel on wanting to work with Muhammad Ali
01:16

Julie Andrews

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Bob Finkel on winning a Peabody Award for a Julie Andrews Special
04:37
Bob Finkel on a picture of Julie Andrews Specials
00:59

Army Archerd

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Bob Finkel on producing The People's Choice Awards and working with Bill Cosby and Army Archerd
01:53
Bob Finkel on a picture of Bill Cosby at The People's Choice Awards
01:14

Kim Basinger

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Bob Finkel on directing Kim Basinger in MacMillan and Wife
00:27

Tony Bennett

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Bob Finkel on Tony Bennett appearing on The Andy Williams Show
02:15

Gower Champion

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Bob Finkel on Gower Champion choreographing a musical for the theater he managed
00:55

Carol Channing

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Bob Finkel on Carol Channing getting cast in a musical for the theater he managed
00:55

Perry Como

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Bob Finkel on Perry Como
05:23
Bob Finkel on how Perry Como worked with Ethel Merman
01:00

Jackie Coogan

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Bob Finkel on doing basic training with Jackie Coogan
00:47

Bill Cosby

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Bob Finkel on working with Bill Cosby 
02:22
Bob Finkel on a picture of Bill Cosby at The People's Choice Awards
01:14

Bing Crosby

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Bob Finkel on producing Bing Crosby's Christmas specials
00:18
Bob Finkel on his friendship with Bing Crosby as a result of producing Crosby's Christmas specials
04:51
Bob Finkel on a picture of Bing Crosby's family
01:11

Bob Cummings

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Bob Finkel on directing Love That Bob
02:21

Michael Dann

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Bob Finkel on Michael Dann
00:34

Phyllis Diller

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Bob Finkel on a picture of him with Phyllis Diller
00:38

David Dortort

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Bob Finkel on getting hired along with David Dortort, Norman Felton and Sheldon to produce and create different genres of shows
01:18
Bob Finkel on David Dortort
00:33

Norman Felton

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Bob Finkel on getting hired along with David Dortort, Norman Felton and Sheldon to produce and create different genres of shows
01:18
Bob Finkel on Norman Felton
00:36

Eddie Fisher

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Bob Finkel on Eddie Fisher
04:30
Bob Finkel on a picture of The Photoplay Awards with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher
00:59

Tennessee Ernie Ford

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Bob Finkel on Tennessee Ernie Ford
02:19

Zsa Zsa Gabor

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Bob Finkel on a picture of a Sy Howard pilot with Zsa Zsa Gabor
01:05

Judy Garland

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Bob Finkel on Judy Garland
00:19

Greg Garrison

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Bob Finkel on Greg Garrison's involvement with The Dean Martin Show
00:56

George Gobel

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Bob Finkel on performer George Gobel
01:06
Bob Finkel on George Gobel
01:04

Mort Green

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Bob Finkel on the writers of The Perry Como Show
01:48

Rock Hudson

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Bob Finkel on directing Rock Hudson in MacMillan and Wife
01:21

Gene Kelly

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Bob Finkel on winning a Peabody Award for a Julie Andrews Special with Gene Kelly 
04:37

Klaus Landsberg

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Bob Finkel onseeing Klaus Landsberg on television, covering the Kathy Fiscus incident - child fell down a well
02:12

Norman Lear

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Bob Finkel on Norman Lear
02:23

Sheldon Leonard

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Bob Finkel on getting hired along with David Dortort, Norman Felton and Sheldon to produce and create different genres of shows
01:18

Jerry Lewis

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Bob Finkel on creating/producing The Jerry Lewis Show
04:56
Bob Finkel on a picture of Martin and Lewis 
00:35

Dean Martin

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Bob Finkel on Greg Garrison's involvement with The Dean Martin Show
00:56
Bob Finkel on a picture of Martin and Lewis 
00:35

Elaine May

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Bob Finkel on Elaine May and Mike Nichols' sketch for the Emmys not meeting the approval of the sponsors and Bob Newhart getting the gig as presenter
02:26

Ethel Merman

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Bob Finkel on how Perry Como worked with Ethel Merman
01:00

Ray Milland

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Bob Finkel on directing Ray Milland
01:38

Bob Newhart

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Bob Finkel on Elaine May and Mike Nichols' sketch for the Emmys not meeting the approval of the sponsors and Bob Newhart getting the gig as presenter
02:26

Mike Nichols

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Bob Finkel on Elaine May and Mike Nichols' sketch for the Emmys not meeting the approval of the sponsors and Bob Newhart getting the gig as presenter
02:26

Marie Osmond

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Bob Finkel on Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond's start in show business on The Andy Williams Show
02:25

Donny Osmond

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Bob Finkel on Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond's start in show business on The Andy Williams Show
02:25

Tom Parker

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Bob Finkel on Col. Tom Parker and Elvis Presley
01:56
Bob Finkel on pranking Tom Parker
01:27

Marty Pasetta

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Bob Finkel on wanting Marty Pasetta to direct the Oscars
00:47

Gregory Peck

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Bob Finkel on meeting with Gregory Peck to revamp the Oscars
02:27

Elvis Presley

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Bob Finkel on working with Elvis Presley on a television special
04:17
Bob Finkel on Elvis Presley and Col. Tom Parker
01:56
Bob Finkel on pranking Tom Parker
01:27
Bob Finkel on pictures of him with Elvis Presley
02:31

Debbie Reynolds

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Bob Finkel on a picture of The Photoplay Awards with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher
00:59

Hubbell Robinson

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Bob Finkel on Hubbell Robinson
00:16

Thomas W. Sarnoff

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Bob Finkel on Tom Sarnoff, his assistant at ABC
02:11
Bob Finkel on Tom Sarnoff, now VP of West Coast Productions at NBC
00:18
Bob Finkel on Tom Sarnoff
02:03
Bob Finkel on a picture of Tom Sarnoff, Elvis and Finkel
01:23

Dinah Shore

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Bob Finkel on performer Dinah Shore, her hour long show and her guest stars
07:38
Bob Finkel on a picture of him with Dinah Shore and the crew of The Dinah Shore Show
01:02

Frank Sinatra

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Bob Finkel on Dinah Shore performing with Frank Sinatra
00:33

Elizabeth Taylor

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Bob Finkel on the Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor drama
00:28

Grant Tinker

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Bob Finkel on Grant Tinker
00:43

Lew Wasserman

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Bob Finkel on leaving ABC to be part of Revue (MCA)
03:16
Bob Finkel on Lew Wasserman and MCA's agents
01:27

Sylvester L. Weaver

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Bob Finkel on Pat Weaver
00:27

Jack Webb

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Bob Finkel on directing the first televised telethon with Jack Webb
01:09

Andy Williams

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Bob Finkel on Tony Bennett appearing on The Andy Williams Show
02:15
Bob Finkel on performer Andy Williams
00:18
Bob Finkel on Bud Yorkin negotiating a show for Andy Williams
01:15
Bob Finkel on Andy Williams 
04:11
Bob Finkel on a picture of him with Andy Williams
01:06

Natalie Wood

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Bob Finkel on directing Natalie Wood in Pride of the Family
02:37

Bud Yorkin

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Bob Finkel on Bud Yorkin negotiating a show for Andy Williams
00:59
Bob Finkel on Bud Yorkin
03:16

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