Warren M. Lewis, one of the original founder-owners of Four Star Prods. and a veteran TV producer of such series as “Peter Gunn” and “Mr. Lucky,” died March 28 of natural causes at his home in Studio City. He was 86.
Lewis entered broadcasting in 1939 as a radio writer for several network shows, including “Silver Theater” and “Stars Over Hollywood.”
During World War II, he served as a master sergeant in the Army Air Force, where he helped organize the Air Force Office of Radio Production. He also wrote speeches for the commanding general of the Army Air Force, General Henry (Hap) Arnold.
Following the war, Lewis signed with NBC as a writer-director in charge of program development. A clause in his contract gave him ownership interest in any series he helped develop, including “Nightbeat” and “Four Star Playhouse.”
In 1950, Lewis left radio to become exclusively involved with the creation and production of film packages for TV.
Joining Dick Powell, Don Sharpe, Charles Boyer (and later David Niven), Lewis was one of the founder-owners of Four Star Prods.
Lewis functioned as a creative producer; he also operated as de facto executive producer and general manager of all the company’s production activity during its early years.
Lewis also produced TV series ranging from “Terry and the Pirates” to the award-winning anthology “Four Star Playhouse,” which starred Powell, Boyer, Niven and Ida Lupino.
In addition, he produced “Henry Fonda Presents the Star and the Story,” “Stage 7” and “DuPont Cavalcade Theater.”
In 1956, Sharpe and Lewis sold their stock in Four Star and organized their own production company that eventually produced TV’s first one-hour continuing drama series, “Wire Service,” starring George Brent, Dane Clark and Mercedes McCambridge.
Lewis also served in an executive producing capacity on several TV shows of the early 1960s, including “Yancy Derringer,” “Man With a Camera” and was also the producer of several episodes of “Desilu Playhouse” for CBS.
Since the mid-1960s, Lewis was involved in the acquisition, creation and development of literary properties for stage, motion picture and TV for his own company, Entertainment Properties Inc. of Hollywood.
Lewis is survived by three children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Services were held March 31.