Lee Rich

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, television executive and producer Lee Rich (1927-2012) talks about starting out in television at the advertising agency Benton & Bowles, where he worked to package and sell The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Danny Thomas Show. Largely serving as an additional producer on the shows during those early days of television, when advertising agencies enjoyed almost total control over programming, Mr. Rich recounts how he left the agency in 1965 to form his own production company, Mirisch-Rich Productions. The company produced such television programs as The Rat Patrol and one of the first Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson shows, Hey, Landlord. Mr. Rich discusses in detail the formation of the hugely successful production company Lorimar in 1969, which generated television hits The Waltons, Dallas, Eight is Enough, Knots Landing and numerous television movies including Sybil and Helter Skelter. Jeffrey Glaser conducted the interview on April 12, 1999 in Los Angeles, CA.

"Providing a home for creative people and people to be happy and enjoying coming to work everyday. That gave me a great deal of joy."

Highlights
Lee Rich on how his production company, Lorimar, got its name
01:00
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
01:50
Lee Rich on the Hollywood Blacklist
01:47
Lee Rich on the control that advertising agencies had over programming in the early days and how the Quiz Show Scandals changed things
00:43
Lee Rich on Fred Silverman's plan for airing Roots
00:42
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences
04:09
On his first jobs after college; on his time in the Navy; on getting into the advertising business
09:02
On his impressions of television; on heading the media department of advertising agency, Benton & Bowles
01:18
On the involvement of advertising agencies in early television programming and shows that he packaged
14:16

Chapter 2

On working with Grant Tinker at Benton & Bowles
01:36
On his involvement with The Dick Van Dyke Show
09:26
On leaving Benton & Bowles to create production company, Mirisch-Rich Productions; on the Hollywood Blacklist
07:16
On joining the Leo Burnett agency; on his involvement with the shows The Rat Patrol and Hogan's Heroes
10:15

Chapter 3

On his involvement with the shows The Rat Patrol, Hey Landlord, and Sheriff Who?; on returning to the advertising world for one year 
07:16
On forming the production company Lorimar and on early Lorimar productions
04:32
On movies of the week; on movie of the week, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which inspired the series The Waltons
16:47

Chapter 4

On The Waltons and the series' subsequent TV movies
05:52
On Lorimar's television movies and miniseries (The Blue Knight, Sybil, Helter Skelter) and on films
14:22
On being an executive producer at Lorimar; on working with the networks 
08:54

Chapter 5

On departments and procedures at Lorimar; on Eight is Enough
05:43
On Lorimar's hit show Dallas
24:33
On the Lorimar show Knot's Landing and its comparisons to Dallas
03:29

Chapter 6

On Lorimar getting into first run syndication and partnering with Telepictures; on leaving Lorimar for MGM-UA
10:20
On selling Lorimar to Warner Brothers; on his time at MGM-UA
06:38
On forming his own company, Lee Rich Productions; on movies he's produced
03:31
On some of his television favorites; on his respect for writers
07:52

Chapter 7

On the impact of cable television; on how audiences have changed
05:41
On his regrets and his legacy; on people he's worked with 
13:18
Shows

Ally McBeal

View Show Page
Lee Rich on shows he likes
00:19

Andy Griffith Show, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on shows he packaged - The Andy Griffith Show
00:18

Blue Knight, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight
02:55

Dallas

View Show Page
Lee Rich on getting Dallas off the ground
00:48
Lee Rich on getting Dallas on the air
01:12
Lee Rich on the origins of Dallas
12:16
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
04:17
Lee Rich on Patrick Ewing leaving and returning to Dallas - the season was all a dream
01:30
Lee Rich on going on Tom Snyder's show to deal with criticism from a reverend about Dallas
00:51
Lee Rich on staying home to watch TV shows
00:45

Dallas: "House Divided"

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
04:17

Dallas: "The Return to Camelot: Part 1"

View Show Page
Lee Rich on Patrick Ewing leaving and returning to Dallas - the season was all a dream
01:30

Dallas: J. R. Returns

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the TV movie Dallas: J.R. Returns
00:29

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

View Show Page
Lee Rich on wanting Danny Thomas to be involved with television
00:29

Detectives, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on packaging Detectives Starring Robert Taylor
00:50

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on shows he packaged - The Dick Van Dyke Show
00:18
Lee Rich on his involvement with The Dick Van Dyke Show
09:26

Edge of Night, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on how the Hollywood Blacklist affected daytime programming
01:14

Eight Is Enough

View Show Page
Lee Rich on producing Eight is Enough
04:00

Gomer Pyle - USMC

View Show Page
Lee Rich on CBS President Jim Aubrey's doubts that Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. would ever make it to air
00:25

Guiding Light

View Show Page
Lee Rich on how the Hollywood Blacklist affected daytime programming
01:14

Helter Skelter

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the successful television movie Helter Skelter  
04:34

Hey Landlord!

View Show Page
Lee Rich on Hey Landlord!, the first program produced for him by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
00:14
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show Hey Landlord!
01:23

Hogan's Heroes

View Show Page
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show Hogan's Heroes
00:51

Homecoming, The: A Christmas Story

View Show Page
Lee Rich on how he kept Lorimar afloat by doing movies of the week like, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which inspired the series The Waltons
16:47

Knots Landing

View Show Page
Lee Rich on trying to sell Knots Landing and creating a night time soap opera
01:49
Lee Rich on producing Knots Landing
03:29

NYPD Blue

View Show Page
Lee Rich on shows he likes
00:19

Pink Panther, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on producing the animated show, The Pink Panther
00:19

Rat Patrol, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on The Rat Patrol, the first show he produced for Mirisch-Rich Productions
00:38
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show, The Rat Patrol
08:54
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show The Rat Patrol
02:40

Rifleman, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on packaging The Rifleman
00:50

Roots

View Show Page
Lee Rich on Fred Silverman's plan for airing Roots
00:42

Sheriff Who?

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the cult show, Sheriff Who? - a Belson/Marshall show
00:32
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show, Sheriff Who, in which a sheriff was killed every week
01:48

Sopranos, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on staying home to watch TV shows
01:11

Sybil

View Show Page
Lee Rich on the successful television movie Sybil
03:56
Lee Rich on his favorite TV show, Sybil
00:38

Waltons, The

View Show Page
Lee Rich on casting Ralph White for The Waltons
01:02
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show The Waltons
05:53
Lee Rich on promising to never give distribution rights away again after doing so with The Waltons
00:20
Lee Rich on Eight is Enough as the modern day version of The Waltons
00:47
Lee Rich on his favorite series, The Waltons
00:32
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

View Topic
Lee Rich on how the advertising agencies worked with the television networks and sponsors during early television
03:18

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
01:50
Lee Rich on Patrick Ewing leaving and returning to Dallas - the previous season was all a dream
01:30

Criticism of TV

View Topic
Lee Rich on criticism about Dallas
01:29

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Lee Rich on the episode of The Waltons that dealt with race
00:28

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Lee Rich on the Hollywood Blacklist
01:47

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Lee Rich on the Hollywood Blacklist
01:47
Lee Rich on the Quiz Show Scandals and the subsequent impact on the networks and advertising agencies
00:56

Media Consolidation

View Topic
Lee Rich on the changing media landscape and consolidation
02:24

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
01:50
Lee Rich on Patrick Ewing leaving and returning to Dallas - the previous season was all a dream
01:30

Network Creation

View Topic
Lee Rich on the network creators: David Sarnoff (NBC), William S. Paley (CBS), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)
02:00

Quiz Show Scandals

View Topic
Lee Rich on the Quiz Show Scandals and the subsequent impact on the networks and advertising agencies
00:56

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Lee Rich on the 3-camera system used at Desilu studios
00:50
Lee Rich on the advantages and disadvantages of cable 
02:48

Television Industry

View Topic
Lee Rich on how the advertising agencies worked with the television networks and sponsors during early television
03:18
Lee Rich on the Hollywood Blacklist
01:47
Lee Rich on the Quiz Show Scandals and the subsequent impact on the networks and advertising agencies
00:56
Lee Rich on the network creators: David Sarnoff (NBC), William S. Paley (CBS), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)
02:00
Lee Rich on the changing media landscape and consolidation
02:24
Lee Rich on criticism about Dallas
01:29
Professions

Advertising Executive

View Profession
Lee Rich on his path to heading the media and programming departments at the advertising agency Benton & Bowles
15:34
Lee Rich on the role of producer versus that of advertising executive
00:33

Executives

View Profession
Lee Rich on his path to heading the media and programming departments at the advertising agency Benton & Bowles
15:34
Lee Rich on the role of producer versus that of advertising executive
00:33

Producers

View Profession
Lee Rich on forming Mirisch-Rich Productions
01:29
Lee Rich on the role of producer versus that of advertising executive
00:32
Lee Rich on forming the production company Lorimar
04:30
Lee Rich on being an executive producer at Lorimar
01:59
Lee Rich on his management style at Lorimar
01:10
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Lee Rich on his involvement with The Dick Van Dyke Show
09:26

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
Lee Rich on Dallas
24:33

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight
02:55
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, Sybil
03:56
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, Helter Skelter, the Charles Manson story
04:34
People

Danny Arnold

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Danny Arnold
00:13

John Astin

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on his involvement with the show, Sheriff Who, in which John Astin starred as a villain
00:52

James T. Aubrey

View Person Page
Lee Rich of CBS President Jim Aubrey's doubts that Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. would ever make it to air
00:25
Lee Rich on working with Jim Aubrey, President of CBS
00:21
Lee Rich on working with Jim Aubrey to keep Benton & Bowles programming at CBS
01:55
Lee Rich on James Aubrey
00:18

Jerry Belson

View Person Page
Lee Rich on his respect for writers
00:59
Lee Rich on Hey Landlord!, the first program produced for him by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
00:14
Lee Rich on his involvement with the Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson show, Hey Landlord!
01:23

William Blinn

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on bringing in writer/producer Bill Blinn for Eight is Enough
01:39

Betty Buckley

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Betty Buckley in Eight is Enough after Diana Hyland's death
00:23

Fielder Cook

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Fielder Cook's direction of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the movie that inspired the series The Waltons
00:20

Ellen Corby

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Ellen Corbin, Grandma Walton
01:40

Michael Dann

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Michael Dann
00:14

Jim Davis

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Jim Davis in Dallas
00:17

Barry Diller

View Person Page
Lee Rich on keeping Lorimar afloat by doing movies of the week for Barry Diller at ABC
01:28

Patrick Duffy

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Patrick Duffy in Dallas
01:57
Lee Rich on casting Patrick Duffy in Dallas
01:02
Lee Rich on Patrick Duffy leaving and returning to Dallas  
01:30

Dick Van Dyke

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on actor Dick Van Dyke and how Benton & Bowles got The Dick Van Dyke Show
04:06
Lee Rich on concerns about Dick Van Dyke for The Dick Van Dyke Show
00:28
Lee Rich on Dick Van Dyke
00:56

Michael Eisner

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Michael Eisner
00:24

Sally Field

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on casting Sally Field in Sybil
03:03

Barbara Bel Geddes

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Barbara Bel Geddes in Dallas
01:02

Will Geer

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Will Geer's death on The Waltons
00:25

Leonard H. Goldenson

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on working with Leonard Goldenson, Founder of ABC
00:21
Lee Rich on the network creators: David Sarnoff (NBC), William S. Paley (CBS), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)
02:00
Lee Rich on Leonard Goldenson
00:23

Bud Grant

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Bud Grant writing the first 5 scripts of Dallas
02:34

Andy Griffith

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Andy Griffith
08:53

Larry Hagman

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on casting Larry Hagman in Dallas
01:42
Lee Rich on Larry Hagman's salary on Dallas
00:39
Lee Rich on the TV movie Dallas: J.R. Returns
00:29

Earl Hamner, Jr.

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Earl Hammer, creator of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the movie that inspired the series The Waltons
12:51

William Holden

View Person Page
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight
02:55

Diana Hyland

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Diana Hyland for Eight is Enough
01:39

David Jacobs

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Dallas creator David Jacobs
00:47
Lee Rich on David Jacobs
00:27

Leonard Katzman

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Leonard Katzman taking over for David Jacobs on Dallas
00:31
Lee Rich on Leonard Katzmann writing the famous Bobby's back on Dallas idea: the previous season was all a dream
01:30

George Kennedy

View Person Page
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight
04:00

Michael Learned

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on casting Michael Learned for The Waltons
01:02
Lee Rich on Michael Learned leaving The Waltons
00:12

Sheldon Leonard

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on wanting trusted people like Sheldon Leonard to work on new television shows
00:29
Lee Rich on producer/director Sheldon Leonard and how Benton & Bowles got The Dick Van Dyke Show
04:06
Lee Rich on his efforts with Sheldon Leonard to prevent The Dick Van Dyke Show from getting dropped by sponsor Procter & Gamble
01:55
Lee Rich on Sheldon Leonard
00:10

Karl Malden

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Karl Malden's role in the film Twilight's Last Gleaming
00:45
Lee Rich on Karl Malden
00:23

Garry Marshall

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on his respect for writers
00:59
Lee Rich on Hey Landlord!, the first program produced for him by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
00:14
Lee Rich on the cult show, Sheriff Who? - a Belson/Marshall show
00:32
Lee Rich on his involvement with the Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson show, Hey Landlord!
01:23
Lee Rich on Garry Marshall
00:09

Donna Mills

View Person Page
Lee Rich on the women of Knots Landing
00:45

Harold Mirisch

View Person Page
Lee Rich on producing partner, Harold Mirisch
00:51

Leslie Moonves

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Leslie Moonves heading Movies of the Week at Lorimar
00:12
Lee Rich on those who wanted his position at Lorimar once he left for MGM
01:49
Lee Rich on Leslie Moonves
00:20

Patricia Neal

View Person Page
Lee Rich on how he kept Lorimar afloat by doing movies of the week like, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, with Patricia Neal (the movie that inspired the series The Waltons)
02:09

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Lee Rich on working with William S. Paley, Founder of CBS
00:21
Lee Rich on William S. Paley's involvement with the movie of the week, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story - the movie that inspired the series The Waltons
02:57
Lee Rich on the network creators: David Sarnoff (NBC), William S. Paley (CBS), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)
02:00
Lee Rich on William S. Paley
00:08

Dick Van Patten

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on casting Eight is Enough
00:12

Daniel Petrie, Sr.

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Daniel Petrie directing Sybil
00:56

Victoria Principal

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Victoria Principal in Dallas
01:57

Carl Reiner

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on his respect for writers
00:59
Lee Rich on writer/show creator Carl Reiner and how Benton & Bowles got The Dick Van Dyke Show
09:26
Lee Rich on Carl Reiner
00:14

Reginald Rose

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Reginald Rose
00:14

David Salzman

View Person Page
Lee Rich on those who wanted his position at Lorimar once he left for MGM
00:23

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
Lee Rich on the network creators: David Sarnoff (NBC), William S. Paley (CBS), and Leonard Goldenson (ABC)
03:14

Rod Serling

View Person Page
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight, written by Rod Serling
05:07
Lee Rich on Rod Serling
00:14

Fred Silverman

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Fred Silverman wanting him to cast a big name for The Homecoming: A Christmas Story - the movie that inspired the series The Waltons
03:35
Lee Rich on Fred Silverman's plan for airing Roots
00:42
Lee Rich onFred Silverman
00:20

Tom Snyder

View Person Page
Lee Rich on going on Tom Snyder's show to deal with criticism from a reverend about Dallas
00:51

Aaron Sorkin

View Person Page
Lee Rich on his respect for writer Aaron Sorkin
00:24

Aaron Spelling

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Aaron Spelling as a writer over at Desilu Studios
00:50

Steven Spielberg

View Person Page
Lee Rich on meeting with Steven Spielberg
01:10

Frank Stanton

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Frank Stanton
00:14

Brandon Stoddard

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on Brandon Stoddard
00:07

Brandon Tartikoff

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Brandon Tartikoff
00:32

Danny Thomas

View Person Page
Lee Rich on wanting popular people like Danny Thomas to have a television show
00:29
Lee Rich on producer Danny Thomas and how Benton & Bowles got The Dick Van Dyke Show
01:29
Lee Rich on Danny Thomas
00:14

Richard Thomas

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on how he kept Lorimar afloat by doing movies of the week like, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, with Richard Thomas (the movie that inspired the series The Waltons)
02:09
Lee Rich on Richard Thomas ("John Boy") leaving The Waltons
01:50

Grant Tinker

View Interview Page
Lee Rich on working with Grant Tinker at Benton & Bowles advertising agency
01:36
Lee Rich on how Grant Tinker thought he was crazy for starting Lorimar
00:47
Lee Rich on Grant Tinker
00:26

Sylvester L. Weaver

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Pat Weaver
00:18

Ralph White

View Person Page
Lee Rich on casting Ralph White for The Waltons
01:02

Larry White

View Person Page
Lee Rich on working with Larry White at Benton & Bowles advertising agency
01:38
Lee Rich on the Lorimar production, The Blue Knight
05:07

Joanne Woodward

View Person Page
Lee Rich on Joanne Woodward in Sybil
03:33

All Interviews

Q
S