91-year-old scribe, pioneer succumbs to lengthy illness

TV Acad founder Syd Cassyd died Friday at his home in Los Angeles following a lengthy illness. He was 91.

The longtime writer and TV pioneer established the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1946 as a central library and archive to preserve the history of TV during its early years.

He served as the Acad’s fourth president and in 1955 received his first Emmy, the President’s Award, for his contributions to ATAS. In 1972, he received his second Emmy, the 25th Anniversary Governor’s Award, and in 1991, he was honored with his third, a special Emmy.

“All of the 10,000 members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences mourn the loss of our founder,” said Meryl Marshall, chairman of the Academy. “Everyone in the broadcasting industry has gained by Syd Cassyd’s vision in establishing our Academy more than 50 years ago, when television was in its infancy.”

During World War II, Cassyd served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a film editor under Col. Frank Capra. Following the war, he moved to Hollywood where he worked as an editor for Boxoffice magazine and as a grip on the Paramount lot.

When Cassyd was interviewed at the time of the Academy’s 50th anniversary in 1996, he noted that when he founded the ATAS, seven people showed up for the first meeting. “But by the fifth meeting, there were 250 members. That’s how rapidly we grew.”

Cassyd recruited radio and film star Edgar Bergen to be its first president; Bergen took office Jan. 7, 1947. A year later, the Academy was formally incorporated as a nonprofit organization with its primary aim being “to promote the cultural, educational and research aim of television.”

Before World War II, Cassyd taught film at NYU-Washington Square College. While there, he also wrote and narrated a radio series, “Human Relations in Motion Pictures.”

In 1952, he produced 150 live episodes of the children’s shows “Candy’s Playhouse” and “Young Musical America.” He also produced numerous documentaries and founded the first monthly television magazine of criticism, TV News.

Cassyd, a high school dropout, was proud of his six-month appointment in 1960 as an administrative aide to science great Linus Pauling at Caltech.

Cassyd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Aug. 15, 1996, as part of the Academy’s 50th anniversary celebration.

He is survived by his wife Miriam and a daughter.

Services are noon today at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd.

Family suggests contributions in his name be made to the Acad of TV Arts and Sciences Foundation.

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