William Dozier, 83, who left a career as a theatrical film producer to become a pioneer in producing for network tv, died April 23 in L.A. from a stroke.
Dozier’s Greenway Prods. was one of tv’s leading indies in the 1960s. Greenway and 20th-Fox TV were partnered in “Batman,” “Green Hornet” and “Tammy Grimes,” all for ABC-TV.
Born and raised in Omaha, he graduated from Creighton U. in 1929. After starting in the real estate business in Buffalo, Toronto and Indianapolis, Dozier, hurt by the economic depression of the 1930s, moved to L.A. in 1934.
A year later he joined the talent agency of Phil Berg-Bert Allenberg Inc. and soon became head of its story and writer department, repping such talents as Erie Stanley Gardner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dalton Trumbo and Cornelia Otis Skinner.
In February 1941, Dozier went to Paramount as head of t he story and writing department, staying there three years before joining RKO Radio Pictures. He was exec assistant to Charles Koerner, then v.p. in charge of production, and when his boss fell ill with leukemia, Dozier took responsibility for supervising production.
During this period, RKO produced such films as “Crossfire,” the first film dealing with anti-Semitism in America.
In 1947, Dozier went to Universal Intl. as associate head of production. He also produced two pics independently for U-I, “Letter From An Unknown Woman” and “You Gotta Stay Happy.” Both costarred his then-wife Joan Fontaine.
Three years later, Dozier produced two pictures at Columbia, “Harriet Craig,” starring Joan Crawford, and “Two Of A Kind.” At the urging of CBS board chairman Bill Paley, Dozier went to CBS in New York in 1951 as exec producer of dramatic programs, supervising the production of “Studio One,” “Suspense,” “Danger,” “You Are There.”
Two years after marrying actress Ann Rutherford in 1953, Dozier returned to Hollywood as director of tv programs for CBS in L.A. In 1956, he returned to motion pictures as v.p. in charge of production for RKO, turning out 12 films in 14 months.
During his return to CBS, he supervised “Perry Mason,” “Twilight Zone,” “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Climax!” “Playhouse 90″ and “Rawhide.” –
Dozier left CBS after James T. Aubrey became prexy in 1959, moving over to to Screen Gems, then the tv subsid of Columbia Pictures. He reactivated Greenway, an existing company, in 1964 upon departing Screen Gems after a four-year stint as senior v.p. in charge of production.
Besides Rutherford, he’s survived by son Robert, a motion picture and tv writer; a daughter, Deborah Potter; a stepdaughter, Gloria May; and four grandchildren.