Lee Rich, the mogul behind some of TV’s most popular programming like “The Waltons,” “Dallas” and “Eight Is Enough,” has died, Deadline reports.
He was 85 at the time of his death.
According to People magazine, Rich attended Ohio University and then started out at the Benton & Bowles advertising agency, where he sold sitcoms like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Danny Thomas Show.” Benton & Bowles and the rest of the New York ad agencies on Madison Avenue controlled much of TV at the time, so Rich largely served as an additional producer on shows. He left the agency as senior vice president in 1965 to form his own production company, Mirisch-Rich Productions.
Rich eventually formed Lorimar Productions and served as executive producer of the company’s successful series like “The Waltons,” “Eight Is Enough,” “Dallas” and its spinoff “Knots Landing.” In 1980, he told People magazine, “I know exactly what ‘Dallas’ is. It’s crap. But we do it as well as possible, and people are entertained by vicarious thrills.”
Rich also executive-produced many TV movies, including Sally Field’s Emmy-winning “Sybil.” Rich was the head of Lorimar until 1986, but left to join MGM/UA Communications as chairman/CEO. He resigned in 1988 to return to independent production.