Perry Lafferty

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Perry Lafferty (1917-2005) describes directing for shows including: The Victor Borge Show, Robert Montgomery Presents and U.S. Steel Hour. He talks about producing shows including: Your Hit Parade, The Andy Williams Show and The Danny Kaye Show. He also discusses becoming a top programming executive for CBS and then NBC. He details interacting with the creative community as an executive, and later leaving NBC to become a producer. He concludes by discussing several of the luminaries he worked with during his career. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview on December 4, 1997 in Brentwood, CA.

"A lot of people scream when I say this, but I really do believe that in television, the most important element probably is the casting. If the scripts are no good and the production's no good, the casting of the thing will flop. But if you had to line up the elements, the script, the producer, the costumes, the music, I think the casting is it."

Highlights
Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
07:09
Perry Lafferty on directing The Twilight Zone and working with producer Rod Serling
03:35
Perry Lafferty on James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines
02:35
Perry Lafferty on programming All in the Family on CBS
01:59
Perry Lafferty on producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison
03:28
Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person, hosted first by Edward R. Murrow and later by Charles Collingwood
03:59
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on what he wanted to do when he grew up as a child; on attending Yale University to study music
15:32
On his orchestra playing on radio during his time at Yale; on going to work for Norman Corwin at CBS Radio; on being an assistant director for CBS Radio, and on eventually becoming a director
12:39

Chapter 2

On his activities during World War II, including working for Armed Forces Radio; on returning to CBS Radio after World War II; on when he first become aware of television, and on his career going into television
16:38
On his first television job directing Celebrity Time; on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
11:39

Chapter 3

On directing The Victor Borge Show; on the writing staff of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge and other early shows he worked on; on Art Carney co-starring on The Victor Borge Show
09:06
On producing The Imogene Coca Show and directing The Arthur Murray Party; on working with Imogene Coca on The Imogene Coca Show, and on what makes a performer a "top banana"; on directing Name That Tune
12:11
On making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29

Chapter 4

On James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines; on The Robert Montgomery Presents episodes "Good Friday, 1865," dealing with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and "One Minute to Ditch"; on the budget and sponsors of the show, and on working the various actors who appeared on it
14:59
On producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison; on CBS Programmer Michael Dann being his mentor; on working with Arthur Godfrey
13:23

Chapter 5

On working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions; on producing The Big Show
12:45
On producing Person to Person, hosted first by Edward R. Murrow and later by Charles Collingwood; on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
08:43
On producing The Aquanauts aka Malibu Run; on the difference between working in live television and working in prerecorded or filmed television, and on the live episode of ER; on the Golden Age of Television
07:48

Chapter 6

On directing The Twilight Zone and working with producer Rod Serling; on producing The Danny Kaye Show; on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
16:35
On the end of The Danny Kaye Show; on making the transition from producer to executive when he became a vice president at CBS; on some of the hit shows during his tenure at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
11:51

Chapter 7

On James T. Aubrey and William S. Paley; on programming All in the Family on CBS; on Robert D. Wood, CBS's purge of rural programming in the early 1970s, and dealing with various CBS presidents
09:58
On the significant shows he programmed at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on Grant Tinker and MTM Productions; on leaving CBS for Filmways
09:07
On producing The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour; on being in charge of movies and miniseries at NBC in the 1980s, and on Brandon Tartikoff turning around the fortunes of NBC; on the importance of made-for-television movies and miniseries on a network schedule
09:51

Chapter 8

on the importance of a programming executive interacting with the creative community, and executives working with producers; on leaving NBC to become a producer; on unusual pitches he heard as an executive
10:44
On casting being the most important element to a hit television series; on career regrets; on how television audiences have changed since he began his career, and on the then-future of television
07:58
On how he would like to be remembered; on various people he worked with in his career
09:38

Chapter 9

On Hy Averback, E. Duke Vincent, Larry Gelbart, Alan Alda, and Beatrice Arthur
07:29
On b-roll pictures from his career- 1952 conventions; on the set of Robert Montgomery Presents; on the set of Robert Montgomery Presents; with Michael Dann; with Norman Jewison; directing Arthur Godfrey; with Carol Burnett; with Jack Lord and his wife; with James Arness and Carol Burnett; with Tom Smothers and Don Rickles
03:14
Shows

All in the Family

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Perry Lafferty on programming All in the Family on CBS
01:59

Aquanauts, The aka Malibu Run

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Aquanauts aka Malibu Run
02:15

Arthur Murray Party, The

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Perry Lafferty on directing The Arthur Murray Party
03:03

Celebrity Time

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Perry Lafferty on his first television job, directing Celebrity Time
04:29

Danny Kaye Show, The

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Danny Kaye Show
06:54
Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
06:16
Perry Lafferty on the end of The Danny Kaye Show
05:03

Imogene Coca Show, The

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Imogene Coca Show
00:54
Perry Lafferty on working with Imogene Coca on The Imogene Coca Show, and on what makes a performer a "top banana"
04:47

Judy Garland Show, The

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Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
06:16

Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge

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Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
07:09
Perry Lafferty on the writing staff of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge and other early shows he worked on
01:36

Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour
02:07

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Perry Lafferty on the significant shows he programmed at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:25

Name That Tune

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Perry Lafferty on directing Name That Tune
03:27

Person to Person

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Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person, hosted first by Edward R. Murrow and later by Charles Collingwood
03:59
Perry Lafferty on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
04:44

Robert Montgomery Presents

View Show Page
Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29
Perry Lafferty on James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines
02:35
Perry Lafferty on The Robert Montgomery Presents episodes "Good Friday, 1865," dealing with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and "One Minute to Ditch"
04:42
Perry Lafferty on the budget and sponsors of Robert Montgomery Presents, and on a novel he wrote later in his career
01:30
Perry Lafferty on working with Norman Felton on Robert Montgomery Presents, and on some of the actors who appeared on the show
06:12

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Perry Lafferty on some of the hit shows during his tenure at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
02:37

Tales of Tomorrow

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Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29

Twilight Zone, The

View Show Page
Perry Lafferty on directing The Twilight Zone and working with producer Rod Serling
03:25

Victor Borge Show, The

View Show Page
Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show
06:22
Perry Lafferty on Art Carney co-starring on The Victor Borge Show
01:08

Your Hit Parade

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Perry Lafferty on producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison
03:28
Topics

Bloopers

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Perry Lafferty on James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines
02:35

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor
04:52

Historic Events and Social Change

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Perry Lafferty on his activities during World War II, including working for Armed Forces Radio
07:45

John F. Kennedy

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Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
08:43

Pivotal Career Moments

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor
04:52

Richard M. Nixon

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Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
08:43

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Perry Lafferty on the Golden Age of Television
02:30

Television Industry

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Perry Lafferty on working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions
06:49
Perry Lafferty on making the transition from producer to executive when he became a vice president at CBS
04:09
Perry Lafferty on Robert D. Wood, CBS's purge of rural programming in the early 1970s, and line of succession of CBS Presidents
02:33
Perry Lafferty on Grant Tinker and MTM Productions
01:44
Perry Lafferty on leaving CBS for Filmways
03:58
Perry Lafferty on being in charge of movies and miniseries at NBC in the 1980s, and on Brandon Tartikoff turning around the fortunes of NBC
05:20
Perry Lafferty on leaving NBC to become a producer
04:11
Perry Lafferty on how television audiences have changed since he began his career, and on the then-future of television
04:41

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
08:43
Perry Lafferty on working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions
06:49

War

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Perry Lafferty on his activities during World War II, including working for Armed Forces Radio
07:45

World War II

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Perry Lafferty on his activities during World War II, including working for Armed Forces Radio
07:45
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Perry Lafferty on the importance of scheduling to programming a network
00:52
Perry Lafferty on the significant shows he programmed at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:25
Perry Lafferty on the importance of made-for-television movies and miniseries on a network schedule
02:11
Perry Lafferty on the importance of a programming executive interacting with the creative community, and executives working with producers
04:11
Perry Lafferty on unusual pitches he heard as an executive
02:20
Perry Lafferty on casting being the most important element to a hit television series
01:45

Producers

View Profession
Perry Lafferty on the difference between working in live television and working in prerecorded or filmed television, and on the live episode of ER
03:02

Television Executive

View Profession
Perry Lafferty on the importance of scheduling to programming a network
00:52
Perry Lafferty on the significant shows he programmed at CBS, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:25
Perry Lafferty on the importance of made-for-television movies and miniseries on a network schedule
02:11
Perry Lafferty on the importance of a programming executive interacting with the creative community, and executives working with producers
04:11
Perry Lafferty on unusual pitches he heard as an executive
02:20
Perry Lafferty on casting being the most important element to a hit television series
01:45
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Aquanauts aka Malibu Run
02:15

Classic Anthology Series

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Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29
Perry Lafferty on directing Robert Montgomery Presents
14:59

Comedy Series

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Perry Lafferty on programming All in the Family on CBS
01:59

Game Shows

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Perry Lafferty on his first television job, directing Celebrity Time
04:29
Perry Lafferty on directing Name That Tune
03:27

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
07:09
Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show and Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge
09:06
Perry Lafferty on producing The Imogene Coca Show, and on directing The Arthur Murray Party
08:44
Perry Lafferty on producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison
03:28
Perry Lafferty on producing The Big Show
05:36
Perry Lafferty on producing The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour
02:07

News and Documentary

View Genre
Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person
08:43

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29
People

Alan Alda

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Perry Lafferty on Alan Alda
00:59

Beatrice Arthur

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Perry Lafferty on Beatrice Arthur
01:37

James T. Aubrey

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Perry Lafferty on James T. Aubrey and William S. Paley
02:50

Tallulah Bankhead

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Perry Lafferty on producing a special for Andy Williams, and on producing The Big Party with Tallulah Bankhead
05:57

Victor Borge

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Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show
06:21

James L. Brooks

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Perry Lafferty on James L. Brooks
00:19

Abe Burrows

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Perry Lafferty on producing a special for Andy Williams, and on producing The Big Party with Tallulah Bankhead
05:56

James Cagney

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Perry Lafferty on James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines
02:35

Imogene Coca

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Perry Lafferty on working with Imogene Coca on The Imogene Coca Show, and on what makes a performer a "top banana"
04:45

Charles Collingwood

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Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person, first hosted by Edward R. Murrow and later by Charles Collingwood
03:59

Norman Corwin

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Perry Lafferty on going to work for Norman Corwin at CBS Radio
06:35

Michael Dann

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor
04:52

Judy Garland

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Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
06:16

Larry Gelbart

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Perry Lafferty on Larry Gelbart
02:26

Arthur Godfrey

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Perry Lafferty on working with Arthur Godfrey
05:05

Valerie Harper

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Perry Lafferty on Valerie Harper
00:26

Norman Jewison

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Perry Lafferty on producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison
03:27

Danny Kaye

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Danny Kaye Show
06:54
Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
06:16
Perry Lafferty on the end of The Danny Kaye Show
05:03

John F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
04:44

Buzz Kulik

View Person Page
Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
07:09

Cloris Leachman

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Perry Lafferty on Cloris Leachman
00:31

Norman Lear

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Perry Lafferty on Norman Lear
01:00

Jack Lord

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Perry Lafferty on Jack Lord
02:59

Robert Montgomery

View Person Page
Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
07:29
Perry Lafferty on working with Norman Felton on Robert Montgomery Presents, and on some of the actors who appeared on the show
06:10

Mary Tyler Moore

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Perry Lafferty on Mary Tyler Moore
00:21

Edward R. Murrow

View Person Page
Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person, first hosted by Edward R. Murrow and later by Charles Collingwood
03:59

Richard M. Nixon

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Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
04:44

William S. Paley

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Perry Lafferty on James T. Aubrey and William S. Paley
02:50

John Rich

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Perry Lafferty on John Rich
00:24

Sherwood Schwartz

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Perry Lafferty on Sherwood Schwartz
00:34

Rod Serling

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Perry Lafferty on directing The Twilight Zone and working with producer Rod Serling
03:25

Fred Silverman

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Perry Lafferty on Fred Silverman
01:42

Grant Tinker

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Perry Lafferty on Grant Tinker and MTM Productions
01:44

E. Duke Vincent

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Perry Lafferty on E. Duke Vincent
01:46

Sylvester L. Weaver

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Perry Lafferty on Sylvester L. Weaver
00:52

Andy Williams

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Perry Lafferty on producing a special for Andy Williams, and on producing The Big Party with Tallulah Bankhead
05:57

Robert D. Wood

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Perry Lafferty on Robert D. Wood, CBS's purge of rural programming in the early 1970s, and dealing with the line of succession of CBS Presidents
02:33

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