Richard Lewis

Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five hour Archive interview, Richard Lewis (1920-2009) discusses his early career as a director and later show creator in radio. He talks about his transition to television as a producer (which included Blind Date) and his role in the creation of the popular and long-running western series Wagon Train, as well as his work on the acclaimed anthology series Alcoa Premiere. He describes producing several successful pilots for series including Leave It To Beaver, Bachelor Father, and McHale's Navy. Lewis recalls becoming the Vice President of MCA's Revue Television, which later became Universal Television. He details producing one of the first television movies, The Borgia Stick, and his becoming an independent producer of feature films shortly thereafter. Karen Herman conducted the interview on March 8, 1999 in Brentwood, CA.

"Television was best represented by the early anthology series. We gave an awful lot to the public in terms of wonderful entertainment."

Highlights
Richard Lewis on producing Blind Date with Arlene Francis
04:19
Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
02:38
Richard Lewis on producing the pilot Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
05:04
Richard Lewis on the DuMont television studios at Wannemaker's
01:41
Richard Lewis on television production moving from New York to Los Angeles, and developing the feature film "A Lovely Way to Die" for MCA and on various other projects
08:56
Richard Lewis on MCA's reputation when he joined the company, and on the structure of MCA/Revue Productions
01:30
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his early interest in theater and movies, and getting interested in the entertainment industry; on his early education and how the Great Depression affected his family
16:36
On radio he listened to growing up; on his experiences at Yale University and studying drama there; on writing radio plays while at Yale University
12:52

Chapter 2

On his overall experience at Yale; on the first time he saw television, at the 1939 World's Fair; on going to work for an advertising agency and working with Phillip Morris
08:53
On on doing work for Orson Welles' "Mercury Theater" on radio; on directing the radio show "Crime Doctor" and other early radio shows; on Jack Benny and other stars appearing on the radio quiz show "Take It or Leave It"
11:54
On working on the radio show "Let Yourself Go," hosted by Milton Berle; on creating the radio show "Quick as a Flash"
08:15

Chapter 3

On creating and directing the radio show "Quick as a Flash"; on his experience during World War II; on creating various pilots for radio
09:45
On how he starting working in television, producing Take a Chance and Two Girls Named Smith; on the DuMont television studios at Wannemaker's; on producing the early sitcom Two Girls Named Smith
07:00
On producing Blind Date with Arlene Francis; on Grace Kelly being rejected on Blind Date, and on selecting contestants for the show; on the production aspects of the show and on the difference between producing for television and producing for radio
11:56

Chapter 4

On producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted; on producing the television version of Quick as a Flash; on producing the pilot Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
15:24
On the character of "Mike Hammer" making the transition from radio to television on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and on William S. Paley refusing to air the show; on producing Crusader, starring Brian Keith
13:22

Chapter 5

On casting Brian Keith as "Mike Hammer" on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer; on going to work for MCA/Revue as an executive producer; on MCA's reputation when he joined the company, and on the structure of MCA/Revue Productions
13:11
On working with Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman at MCA; on MCA's relationship with the television networks; on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan; on producing The General Electric Theater's production of "Clown," starring Henry Fonda and "The Blond Dog," starring Cornell Wilde
15:30

Chapter 6

On producing Studio 57 and M Squad; on producing Leave it to Beaver and making the pilot
13:46
On producing Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and Tales of Wells Fargo; on producing the pilot for Bachelor Father and various other pilots; on what distinguished Wagon Train from other Westerns
15:37

Chapter 7

On producing Wagon Train; on various pilots he produced that were not picked up, including Portrait, starring Ronald Colman, which aired as a Studio 57 episode; on the deals that get made between networks and studios and on producing the series Checkmate
16:33
On attempting to produce a series for Edward G. Robinson; on producing Riverboat and various other shows; on the power of the networks in the 1950s and early 1960s, and the networks wresting control from producers; on producing Laramie
12:40

Chapter 8

On Revue/MCA becoming Universal Televison; on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns; on producing Alcoa Premiere, including the episodes "End of a World" and "People Need People"
10:41
On producing the Alcoa Premiere episodes "The Fortress" and "Family Outing"; on Alcoa Premiere staying on the air while other anthology series got cancelled; on his week-to-week duties on Alcoa Premiere
07:11
On producing various episodes of Alcoa Premiere; on the title design for Alcoa Premiere; on producing a pilot for Fred Astaire and Barrie Chase
11:03

Chapter 9

On his involvement in the made-for-television movie concept; on the process of filming made-for-television movies as opposed to feature films and on networks' reaction to the concept; on television production moving from New York to Los Angeles, and developing the feature film "A Lovely Way to Die" for MCA and on various other projects
16:20
On creating the series Mama Malone with playwright Terrence McNally; on producing shows with Jack Barry and Dan Enright; on then-recent activities
06:33
On the key to making a successful series and on what represents the best of television; on the then-future of television and how he'd like to be remembered; on various people with whom he's worked in his career
05:31

Chapter 10

On various people with whom he worked in his career
14:19
On various people with whom he worked in his career; on his family
10:55
On b-roll pictures from his career- on stage at Yale; newspaper clipping about "Quick as a Flash"; with Brian Keith; with Mickey Spillane; receiving an award for Wagon Train; with Jack Benny; with Fred Astaire and John Wayne; article about Mama Malone;; letter informing Richard Lewis he was a Vice President of Revue Productions
02:41
Shows

Alcoa Premiere

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Richard Lewis on producing Alcoa Premiere, including the episodes "End of a World" and "People Need People"
05:29
Richard Lewis on producing the Alcoa Premiere episodes "The Fortress" and "Family Outing"
02:07
Richard Lewis on Alcoa Premiere staying on the air while other anthology series got cancelled
02:37
Richard Lewis on his week-to-week duties on Alcoa Premiere
02:26
Richard Lewis on the Alcoa Premiere episode "Seven Against the Sea," which served as the pilot for McHale's Navy
03:04
Richard Lewis on the Alcoa Premiere episode "Flashing Spikes," directed by John Ford
03:25
Richard Lewis on the title design for Alcoa Premiere
00:45

Bachelor Father

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Richard Lewis on producing the pilot for Bachelor Father and various other pilots
02:19

Blind Date

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Richard Lewis on producing Blind Date with Arlene Francis
04:19
Richard Lewis on Grace Kelly being rejected on Blind Date, and on selecting contestants for the show
02:49
Richard Lewis on the production aspects of Blind Date
02:24

Checkmate

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Richard Lewis on the deals that get made between networks and studios and on producing the series Checkmate
06:21

Crusader

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Richard Lewis on producing Crusader, starring Brian Keith
07:52

General Electric Theater, The

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
02:38
Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater's production of "Clown," starring Henry Fonda and "The Blond Dog," starring Cornell Wilde
04:22

Laramie

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Richard Lewis on producing Laramie, Riverboat, and various other shows
05:03
Richard Lewis on producing Laramie
01:08

Leave it to Beaver

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Richard Lewis on producing Leave it to Beaver and making the pilot
02:40
Richard Lewis on Leave it to Beaver writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher
02:44

M Squad

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Richard Lewis on producing Studio 57 and M Squad
04:21
Richard Lewis on the cast of M Squad, including Lee Marvin, and the directors of the show
03:04
Richard Lewis on the premise of M Squad
00:56

McHale's Navy

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Richard Lewis on the Alcoa Premiere episode "Seven Against the Sea," which served as the pilot for McHale's Navy
03:04

Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer

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Richard Lewis on producing the pilot Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
05:04
Richard Lewis on the character of "Mike Hammer" making the transition from radio to television on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and on William S. Paley refusing to air the show
05:30
Richard Lewis on casting Brian Keith as "Mike Hammer" on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
01:24

Riverboat

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Richard Lewis on producing Laramie, Riverboat, and various other shows
05:03

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aka Celebrity Playhouse

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Richard Lewis on producing Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and Tales of Wells Fargo
02:04

Studio 57

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Richard Lewis on producing Studio 57 and M Squad
04:21
Richard Lewis on various pilots he produced that were not picked up, including Portrait, starring Ronald Colman which aired as a Studio 57 episode
04:07

Tales of Wells Fargo

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Richard Lewis on producing Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and Tales of Wells Fargo
02:04

Wagon Train

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Richard Lewis on producing Wagon Train, starring Ward Bond
08:02
Richard Lewis on the directors of Wagon Train
01:39
Richard Lewis on what distinguished Wagon Train from other Westerns
01:14
Richard Lewis on leaving Wagon Train and the death of star Ward Bond
02:49
Richard Lewis on the guest stars of Wagon Train
01:18
Richard Lewis on the budget of Wagon Train
01:56
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

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Richard Lewis on the first time he saw television, at the 1939 World's Fair
02:34

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Richard Lewis on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns
02:33

Criticism of TV

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Richard Lewis on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns
02:33

Historic Events and Social Change

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Richard Lewis on the first time he saw television, at the 1939 World's Fair
02:34
Richard Lewis on his experience during World War II
02:20

Hollywood Blacklist

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Richard Lewis on producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted
07:44

Industry Crossroads

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Richard Lewis on producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted
07:44

Media Consolidation

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Richard Lewis on Revue/MCA becoming Universal Televison
02:38

Ronald Reagan

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
02:36

Sex & Violence

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Richard Lewis on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns
02:33

Technological Innovation

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Richard Lewis on the advent of color television and producing feature films
01:52

Television Industry

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Richard Lewis on producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted
07:44
Richard Lewis on the different between television production in New York and in Los Angeles in the 1950s
02:30
Richard Lewis on MCA's relationship with the television networks
02:59
Richard Lewis on the deals that get made between networks and studios, and on producing the series Checkmate
06:11
Richard Lewis on the power of the networks in the 1950s and early 1960s, and the networks wresting control from producers
04:48
Richard Lewis on Revue/MCA becoming Universal Televison
02:38
Richard Lewis on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns
02:33
Richard Lewis on the then-future of television
01:23

Television and the Presidency

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
02:36

War

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Richard Lewis on his experience during World War II
02:20

World War II

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Richard Lewis on his experience during World War II
02:20
Professions

Producers

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Richard Lewis on the differences between producing for radio and producing for television
02:23
Richard Lewis on the deals that get made between networks and studios and on producing the series Checkmate
06:11
Richard Lewis on the key to making a sucessful series and on what represents the best of television
01:57
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Richard Lewis on producing Crusader
07:52

Classic Anthology Series

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater
07:00
Richard Lewis on producing Studio 57
04:21
Richard Lewis on producing Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and Tales of Wells Fargo
02:04
Richard Lewis on producing Alcoa Premiere
19:57

Comedy Series

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Richard Lewis on how he starting working in television producing Take a Chance and Two Girls Named Smith
07:00
Richard Lewis on producing Leave it to Beaver
05:25

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Richard Lewis on producing the pilot Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
10:35
Richard Lewis on producing M Squad
03:04
Richard Lewis on the deals that get made between networks and studios and on producing the series Checkmate
06:21

Game Shows

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Richard Lewis on producing Blind Date
09:33

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Richard Lewis on his involvement in the made-for-television movie concept
05:30
Richard Lewis on the process of filming made-for-television movies as opposed to feature films and on networks' reaction to the concept
01:54

Western Series

View Genre
Richard Lewis on producing Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and Tales of Wells Fargo
02:04
Richard Lewis on producing Wagon Train
10:55
Richard Lewis on producing Wagon Train
06:03
Richard Lewis on producing Laramie, Riverboat and various other shows
11:28
Richard Lewis on testifying to Congress about violence in television Westerns
02:33
People

Fred Astaire

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Richard Lewis on producing a pilot for Fred Astaire and Barrie Chase
03:46
Richard Lewis on Edward G. Robertson, Fred Astaire, and George Schaeffer
03:39

James T. Aubrey

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Richard Lewis on Burt Reynolds, John Willams, and James T. Aubrey
01:24

Jack Barry

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Richard Lewis on producing shows with Jack Barry and Dan Enright
01:18
Richard Lewis on Jack Barry, Dan Enright, and Lila Kaye
01:03

Jack Benny

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Richard Lewis on Jack Benny and other stars appearing on the radio quiz show "Take It or Leave It"
02:01

Milton Berle

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Richard Lewis on working on the radio show "Let Yourself Go" hosted by Milton Berle
04:58

Barbara Billingsley

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Richard Lewis on Barbara Billingsley, Jerry Mathers, and Boris Ingster
01:21

Paul Bogart

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Richard Lewis on Mel Tolkin, Prudence Fraser, and Paul Bogart
01:50

Ward Bond

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Richard Lewis on producing Wagon Train, starring Ward Bond
08:00
Richard Lewis on leaving Wagon Train and the death of star Ward Bond
02:49

Macdonald Carey

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Richard Lewis on MacDonald Carey, Kim Hunter, and Brian Aherne
00:40

Ronald Colman

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Richard Lewis on various pilots he produced that were not picked up, including Portrait, starring Ronald Colman which aired as a Studio 57 episode
04:07

Joe Connelly

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Richard Lewis on Leave it to Beaver writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher
02:44

Hume Cronyn

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Richard Lewis on Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Norman Lloyd
01:07

Bill Cullen

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Richard Lewis on Bill Cullen and Lew Lahr
00:55

David Dortort

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Richard Lewis on Dale Robertson, John Payne, and David Dortort
00:44

Melvyn Douglas

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Richard Lewis on producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted
07:44

Charles Dubin

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Richard Lewis on Charles Dubin and William S. Paley
00:40

Dan Enright

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Richard Lewis on producing shows with Jack Barry and Dan Enright
01:18
Richard Lewis on Jack Barry, Dan Enright, and Lila Kaye
01:03

Henry Fonda

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater's production of "Clown," starring Henry Fonda and "The Blond Dog," starring Cornell Wilde
04:22

John Ford

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Richard Lewis on the Alcoa Premiere episode "Flashing Spikes," directed by John Ford
03:25

John Forsythe

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Richard Lewis on Taft Schreiber, Cornel Wilde, and John Forsythe
01:25

Arlene Francis

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Richard Lewis on producing Blind Date with Arlene Francis
04:19
Richard Lewis on producing Who's There, starring Arlene Francis and Melvyn Douglas, who was blacklisted
07:44
Richard Lewis on Bernard Schubert and Arlene Francis
00:50

Joan Harrison

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Richard Lewis on Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Harrison, and Ray Milland
01:16

Alfred Hitchcock

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Richard Lewis on Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Harrison, and Ray Milland
01:16

Earl Holliman

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Richard Lewis on Earl Holliman, Michael Landon, and Clifton Fadiman
01:18

Kim Hunter

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Richard Lewis on MacDonald Carey, Kim Hunter, and Brian Aherne
00:41

Brian Keith

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Richard Lewis on producing Crusader, starring Brian Keith
07:52

Grace Kelly

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Richard Lewis on Grace Kelly being rejected on Blind Date, and on selecting contestants for the show
02:48

Michael Landon

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Richard Lewis on Earl Holliman, Michael Landon, and Clifton Fadiman
01:18

Charles Laughton

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Richard Lewis on Charles Laughton, Howard Christy, and Darren McGavin
01:00

Norman Lloyd

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Richard Lewis on Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Norman Lloyd
01:07

Lee Marvin

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Richard Lewis on the cast of M Squad, including Lee Marvin, and the directors of the show
03:04

Jerry Mathers

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Richard Lewis on Barbara Billingsley, Jerry Mathers, and Boris Ingster
01:21

Ray Milland

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Richard Lewis on Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Harrison, and Ray Milland
01:17

Bob Mosher

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Richard Lewis on Leave it to Beaver writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher
02:44

William S. Paley

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Richard Lewis on the character of "Mike Hammer" making the transition from radio to television on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and on William S. Paley refusing to air the show
05:30
Richard Lewis on Charles Dubin and William S. Paley
00:41

Ronald Reagan

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Richard Lewis on producing The General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan
02:36

Burt Reynolds

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Richard Lewis on producing Laramie, Riverboat starring Burt Reynolds and various other series and pilots
05:03
Richard Lewis on Burt Reynolds, John Willams, and James T. Aubrey
01:24

Dale Robertson

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Richard Lewis on Dale Robertson, John Payne, and David Dortort
00:43

Edward G. Robinson

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Richard Lewis on attempting to produce a series for Edward G. Robinson
01:41
Richard Lewis on Edward G. Robertson, Fred Astaire, and George Schaeffer
03:39

Jules Stein

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Richard Lewis on working with Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman at MCA
05:29

Jessica Tandy

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Richard Lewis on Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Norman Lloyd
01:07

Mel Tolkin

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Richard Lewis on Mel Tolkin, Prudence Fraser, and Paul Bogart
01:50

Lew Wasserman

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Richard Lewis on working with Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman at MCA
05:29
Richard Lewis on Oscar Millard, Lew Wasserman, and Alan Miller
01:16

Orson Welles

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Richard Lewis on doing work for Orson Welles' "Mercury Theater" on radio
06:50

John Williams

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Richard Lewis on Burt Reynolds, John Willams, and James T. Aubrey
01:24

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