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."

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

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
On his first television job directing Celebrity Time; on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik

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
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
On making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents

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
On producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison; on CBS Programmer Michael Dann being his mentor; on working with Arthur Godfrey

Chapter 5

On working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions; on producing The Big Show
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
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

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
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

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
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
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

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
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
On how he would like to be remembered; on various people he worked with in his career

Chapter 9

On Hy Averback, E. Duke Vincent, Larry Gelbart, Alan Alda, and Beatrice Arthur
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
Shows

All in the Family

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Perry Lafferty on programming All in the Family on CBS

Aquanauts, The aka Malibu Run

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Aquanauts aka Malibu Run

Arthur Murray Party, The

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Perry Lafferty on directing The Arthur Murray Party

Celebrity Time

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Perry Lafferty on his first television job, directing Celebrity Time

Danny Kaye Show, The

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Danny Kaye Show
Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
Perry Lafferty on the end of The Danny Kaye Show

Imogene Coca Show, The

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

Judy Garland Show, The

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

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
Perry Lafferty on the writing staff of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge and other early shows he worked on

Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour

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

Name That Tune

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Perry Lafferty on directing Name That Tune

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

Robert Montgomery Presents

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Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
Perry Lafferty on James Cagney appearing on Robert Montgomery Presents and on Cagney forgetting his lines
Perry Lafferty on The Robert Montgomery Presents episodes "Good Friday, 1865," dealing with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and "One Minute to Ditch"
Perry Lafferty on the budget and sponsors of Robert Montgomery Presents, and on a novel he wrote later in his career
Perry Lafferty on working with Norman Felton on Robert Montgomery Presents, and on some of the actors who appeared on the show

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

Tales of Tomorrow

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

Twilight Zone, The

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

Victor Borge Show, The

View Show Page
Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show
Perry Lafferty on Art Carney co-starring on The Victor Borge Show

Your Hit Parade

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

Bloopers

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

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor

Historic Events and Social Change

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

John F. Kennedy

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

Pivotal Career Moments

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor

Richard M. Nixon

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

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

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Perry Lafferty on the Golden Age of Television

Television Industry

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Perry Lafferty on working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions
Perry Lafferty on making the transition from producer to executive when he became a vice president at CBS
Perry Lafferty on Robert D. Wood, CBS's purge of rural programming in the early 1970s, and line of succession of CBS Presidents
Perry Lafferty on Grant Tinker and MTM Productions
Perry Lafferty on leaving CBS for Filmways
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
Perry Lafferty on leaving NBC to become a producer
Perry Lafferty on how television audiences have changed since he began his career, and on the then-future of television

Television and the Presidency

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Perry Lafferty on on having John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on Person to Person
Perry Lafferty on working the 1952 political conventions, and subsequent conventions

War

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

World War II

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

Executives

View Profession
Perry Lafferty on the importance of scheduling to programming a network
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
Perry Lafferty on the importance of made-for-television movies and miniseries on a network schedule
Perry Lafferty on the importance of a programming executive interacting with the creative community, and executives working with producers
Perry Lafferty on unusual pitches he heard as an executive
Perry Lafferty on casting being the most important element to a hit television series

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

Television Executive

View Profession
Perry Lafferty on the importance of scheduling to programming a network
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
Perry Lafferty on the importance of made-for-television movies and miniseries on a network schedule
Perry Lafferty on the importance of a programming executive interacting with the creative community, and executives working with producers
Perry Lafferty on unusual pitches he heard as an executive
Perry Lafferty on casting being the most important element to a hit television series
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Aquanauts aka Malibu Run

Classic Anthology Series

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

Comedy Series

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Perry Lafferty on programming All in the Family on CBS

Game Shows

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Perry Lafferty on his first television job, directing Celebrity Time
Perry Lafferty on directing Name That Tune

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik
Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show and Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge
Perry Lafferty on producing The Imogene Coca Show, and on directing The Arthur Murray Party
Perry Lafferty on producing Your Hit Parade, directed by Norman Jewison
Perry Lafferty on producing The Big Show
Perry Lafferty on producing The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour

News and Documentary

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Perry Lafferty on producing Person to Person

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
People

Alan Alda

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Perry Lafferty on Alan Alda

Beatrice Arthur

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Perry Lafferty on Beatrice Arthur

James T. Aubrey

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Perry Lafferty on James T. Aubrey and William S. Paley

Tallulah Bankhead

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

Victor Borge

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Perry Lafferty on directing The Victor Borge Show

James L. Brooks

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Perry Lafferty on James L. Brooks

Abe Burrows

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

James Cagney

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

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"

Charles Collingwood

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

Norman Corwin

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

Michael Dann

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Perry Lafferty on CBS programmer Michael Dann being his mentor

Judy Garland

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

Larry Gelbart

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Perry Lafferty on Larry Gelbart

Arthur Godfrey

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Perry Lafferty on working with Arthur Godfrey

Valerie Harper

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Perry Lafferty on Valerie Harper

Norman Jewison

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

Danny Kaye

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Perry Lafferty on producing The Danny Kaye Show
Perry Lafferty on the format of The Danny Kaye Show and on The Judy Garland Show
Perry Lafferty on the end of The Danny Kaye Show

John F. Kennedy

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

Buzz Kulik

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Perry Lafferty on directing Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge along with Buzz Kulik

Cloris Leachman

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Perry Lafferty on Cloris Leachman

Norman Lear

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Perry Lafferty on Norman Lear

Jack Lord

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Perry Lafferty on Jack Lord

Robert Montgomery

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Perry Lafferty on making the transition into directing drama with Tales of Tomorrow and Robert Montgomery Presents
Perry Lafferty on working with Norman Felton on Robert Montgomery Presents, and on some of the actors who appeared on the show

Mary Tyler Moore

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Perry Lafferty on Mary Tyler Moore

Edward R. Murrow

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

Richard M. Nixon

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

William S. Paley

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Perry Lafferty on James T. Aubrey and William S. Paley

John Rich

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Perry Lafferty on John Rich

Sherwood Schwartz

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Perry Lafferty on Sherwood Schwartz

Rod Serling

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

Fred Silverman

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Perry Lafferty on Fred Silverman

Grant Tinker

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Perry Lafferty on Grant Tinker and MTM Productions

E. Duke Vincent

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Perry Lafferty on E. Duke Vincent

Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver

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Perry Lafferty on Sylvester L. Weaver

Andy Williams

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

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

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