Kent McCray

Producer / Production Manager


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Kent McCray (1928-2018) talks about his early years, and his first job at NBC in Los Angeles as a stagehand. He recalls working with various NBC personalities of the day including Groucho Marx, Ed Sullivan, Ralph Edwards, and Red Skelton. He discusses his time with Bob Hope on various USO Tours, and working with Hope while traveling to South Korea and Okinawa. He recounts working as a production manager on Outlaws, The High Chaparral, and Bonanza, on which he first worked with Michael Landon. McCray fondly recalls his many years serving as producer and production manager on Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and Highway to Heaven. He concludes by summing up his time in the business, and how he’d like to be remembered. Dean Butler conducted the interview on October 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA.

"I respected the crew and the casts that we had on every series that we did, because not one person can do it all. It’s a combination of many, many people and their input into the show that makes it all work."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Kent McCray on being unit manager for a Bob Hope USO show that also featured Mickey Mantle
Kent McCray on various anecdotes about Michael Landon
Kent McCray on hiring and firing his crews
Kent McCray on his wife, Susan
Kent McCray on working with Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life
Kent McCray on his duties as a unit manager at NBC, and on working with Eddie Cantor on The Colgate Comedy Hour
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his earliest experience with television, and on his education
On his early experience in the theater, and on his mentor, Dr. Nagy; on early jobs he did while trying to establish himself; on his first job in television, as a stagehand at the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles

Chapter 2

On his mentors, and people he learned from while working at NBC in Los Angeles; on the experience of working as a stagehand for NBC on shows like The Colgate Comedy Hour and All Star Revue; on various tasks he undertook at NBC, and on working with Ralph Edwards, Red Skelton, and Ed Sullivan
On his duties as a unit manager at NBC, and on working with Eddie Cantor on The Colgate Comedy Hour; on working with Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life; on being an associate producer on NBC Matinee Theater

Chapter 3

On associate producing NBC Matinee Theater; on being unit manager for Bob Hope on a show from Alaska, also featuring Ginger Rogers

Chapter 4

On being unit manager for a Bob Hope USO show that also featured Mickey Mantle; on cultivating relationships and figuring out the dynamics of his crew

Chapter 5

On being unit manager, and later associate producer for Bob Hope's USO Christmas shows: on traveling around the country as an associate producer on Bob Hope's USO Shows
On the experience of being with Bob Hope's USO show for the first time in Okinawa; on the logistics of shooting Bob Hope's USO shows

Chapter 6

On traveling to South Korea to associate produce Bob Hope's USO shows; on what it was like working for Bob Hope, and on his decision to move on from working with him

Chapter 7

On associate producing Philip Marlowe starring Phil Carey; on being production manager for Bonanza, and on working with creator David Dortort; on associate producing Outlaws and on his producing style
On hiring and firing his crews; on making his crews comfortable with individual hotel rooms; on associate producing The High Chaparral, and on the location of the show
On the budget of The High Chaparral, and on working with his crew on the show; on how he communicates with this crew to get what he wants from them; on producing Dinah Shore's concerts in Europe

Chapter 8

On the craft of being a production manager; on coming up with the idea of sharing production on Bonanza and The High Chaparral to cut costs
On the casts of Bonanza and The High Chaparral; on working with Michael Landon (who loved pranks) on Bonanza; on the decline of the western as a television genre, and on the end of Bonanza
On how he came to be the production manager for Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie; on scouting locations for Little House on the Prairie; on shooting the pilot for Little House on the Prairie and on dealing with complications due to weather when shooting
On basing Little House on the Prairie on the series of books, and on what made the show good; on friction between producer/star Michael Landon and producer Ed Friendly on Little House on the Prairie; on choosing Simi Valley as the main location to shoot Little House on the Prairie
On working with children; on working with Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and Highway to Heaven

Chapter 9

On summing up his career; on how the industry has changed since he started; on mentors in his career
On Michael Landon's final series not being picked up; on advice to aspiring production managers; on the importance of keeping things light with his crew
On his wife, Susan; on his relationship with Michael Landon, and on Landon's funeral; on how he'd like to be remembered

Chapter 10

An overview of Kent McCray's career and accomplishments, narrated by Susan McCray
Shows

All Star Revue

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Kent McCray on the experience of working as a stagehand for NBC on shows like The Colgate Comedy Hour and All Star Revue

Bob Hope Specials

View Show Page
Kent McCray on being unit manager for Bob Hope on a USO show from Alaska, also featuring Ginger Rogers
Kent McCray on being unit manager for a Bob Hope USO show that also featured Mickey Mantle
Kent McCray on being unit manager, and later associate producer on Bob Hope's USO Christmas shows
Kent McCray on traveling around the country as an associate producer on Bob Hope's USO Shows
Kent McCray on the experience of being with Bob Hope's USO show for the first time in Okinawa
Kent McCray on the logistics of shooting Bob Hope's USO shows
Kent McCray on traveling to South Korea to associate produce Bob Hope's USO shows
Kent McCray on what it was like working for Bob Hope, and on his decision to move on from working with him

Bonanza

View Show Page
Kent McCray on being production manager for Bonanza, and on working with creator David Dortort
Kent McCray on coming up with the idea of sharing production on Bonanza and The High Chaparral to cut costs
Kent McCray on working on post-production for Bonanza, and on the music of the show
Kent McCray on the casts of Bonanza and The High Chaparral, including Pernell Roberts who left Bonanza, Cameron Mitchell, and Lorne Greene
Kent McCray on working with Michael Landon (who loved pranks) on Bonanza
Kent McCray on the decline of the western as a television genre, and on the end of Bonanza

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Kent McCray on the experience of working as a stagehand for NBC on shows like The Colgate Comedy Hour and All Star Revue
Kent McCray on his duties as a unit manager at NBC, and on working with Eddie Cantor on The Colgate Comedy Hour

High Chaparral, The

View Show Page
Kent McCray on associate producing The High Chaparral, and on the location of the show
Kent McCray on the budget of The High Chaparral, and on working with his crew on the show
Kent McCray on coming up with the idea of shows sharing production on Bonanza and The High Chaparral to cut costs

Highway to Heaven

View Show Page
Kent McCray on working with Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven and Father Murphy
Kent McCray on Michael Landon sharing the profits with his crew on Highway to Heaven

Little House on the Prairie

View Show Page
Kent McCray on how he came to be the production manager for Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie
Kent McCray on scouting locations for Little House on the Prairie
Kent McCray on shooting the pilot for Little House on the Prairie and on dealing with complications due to weather when shooting
Kent McCray on basing Little House on the Prairie on the series of books, and on what made the show good
Kent McCray on friction between producer/star Michael Landon and producer Ed Friendly on Little House on the Prairie
Kent McCray on choosing Simi Valley as the main location to shoot Little House on the Prairie
Kent McCray on working with children on Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy
Kent McCray on working with Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven and Father Murphy

NBC Matinee Theater

View Show Page
Kent McCray on being an associate producer on NBC Matinee Theater
Kent McCray on associate producing NBC Matinee Theater

Philip Marlowe

View Show Page
Kent McCray on associate producing Philip Marlowe starring Phil Carey

You Bet Your Life

View Show Page
Kent McCray on working with Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life
Topics

Advice

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Kent McCray on advice to aspiring production managers, and on the importance of preparation

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Kent McCray on his early experience in the theater, and on his mentor, Dr. Nagy
Kent McCray on his mentors, and people he learned from while working at NBC in Los Angeles
Kent McCray on mentors in his career

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Kent McCray on his early experience in the theater, and on his mentor, Dr. Nagy
Kent McCray on his mentors, and people he learned from while working at NBC in Los Angeles
Kent McCray on mentors in his career

Television Industry

View Topic
Kent McCray on how the industry has changed since he started
Kent McCray on advice to aspiring production managers, and on the importance of preparation
Professions

Producers

View Profession
Kent McCray on cultivating relationships and figuring out the dynamics of his crew
Kent McCray on hiring and firing his crews
Kent McCray on making his crews comfortable by giving them individual hotel rooms
Kent McCray on how he communicates with his crew to get what he wants from them

Production Professionals

View Profession
Kent McCray on the craft of being a production manager
Kent McCray on the importance of keeping things light with his crew

Unit Production Manager

View Profession
Kent McCray on the craft of being a production manager
Kent McCray on the importance of keeping things light with his crew
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Kent McCray on being an associate producer on NBC Matinee Theater
Kent McCray on associate producing NBC Matinee Theater

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Kent McCray on associate producing Philip Marlowe starring Phil Carey

Drama Series

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Kent McCray on working on Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and Highway to Heaven

Game Shows

View Genre
Kent McCray on working with Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Kent McCray on the experience of working as a stagehand for NBC on shows like The Colgate Comedy Hour and All Star Revue
Kent McCray on being unit manager for Bob Hope on a show from Alaska, also featuring Ginger Rogers
Kent McCray on being unit manager for a Bob Hope USO show that also featured Mickey Mantle
Kent McCray on traveling around the country as an associate producer on Bob Hope's USO Shows
Kent McCray on traveling to South Korea to associate produce Bob Hope's USO shows

Western Series

View Genre
Kent McCray on being production manager for Bonanza
Kent McCray on associate producing The High Chaparral
Kent McCray on the decline of the western as a television genre, and on the end of Bonanza
Kent McCray on working on Bonanza and The High Chaparral
Kent McCray on working on Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and Highway to Heaven
People

Eddie Cantor

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Kent McCray on his duties as a unit manager at NBC, and on working with Eddie Cantor on The Colgate Comedy Hour

Phil Carey

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Kent McCray on associate producing Philip Marlowe starring Phil Carey

David Dortort

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Kent McCray on being production manager for Bonanza, and on working with creator David Dortort

Ralph Edwards

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Kent McCray on various tasks he undertook at NBC, and on working with Ralph Edwards, Red Skelton, and Ed Sullivan

Ed Friendly

View Person Page
Kent McCray on friction between producer/star Michael Landon and producer Ed Friendly on Little House on the Prairie

Lorne Greene

View Person Page
Kent McCray on working with Lorne Greene on Bonanza

Bob Hope

View Person Page
Kent McCray on being unit manager for Bob Hope on a show from Alaska, also featuring Ginger Rogers
Kent McCray on traveling around the country as an associate producer on Bob Hope's USO Shows
Kent McCray on traveling to South Korea to associate produce Bob Hope's USO shows

Groucho Marx

View Person Page
Kent McCray on working with Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life

Pernell Roberts

View Person Page
Kent McCray on working with Pernell Roberts on Bonanza

Ginger Rogers

View Person Page
Kent McCray on being unit manager for Bob Hope on a show from Alaska, also featuring Ginger Rogers

Dinah Shore

View Person Page
Kent McCray on producing Dinah Shore's concerts in Europe

Red Skelton

View Person Page
Kent McCray on various tasks he undertook at NBC, and on working with Ralph Edwards, Red Skelton, and Ed Sullivan

Ed Sullivan

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Kent McCray on various tasks he undertook at NBC, and on working with Ralph Edwards, Red Skelton, and Ed Sullivan

Brandon Tartikoff

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Kent McCray on Michael Landon's relationship with NBC and Brandon Tartikoff

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