Emmy-winning producer Maurice Joseph “Bud” Rifkin, who also was a TV advertising pioneer, died Sept. 3 at his Beverly Hills home following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 88.
Rifkin, who garnered Emmys as executive producer of “The Making of the President 1968” and the Hallmark Hall of Fame special “A Storm in Summer,” was a founding shareholder of American Television and Communications Corp.
He spent many years as an independent producer for MGM, Columbia and 20th Century Fox. He later served in various executive posts for United Artists Television and Metromedia Producer’s Corp.
A sampling of his producer credits include “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and the “National Geographic” series and “The Selznick Years.”
His career in the entertainment industry spanned six decades, starting after he graduated from USC with a B.S. in chemistry and an M.S. in psychology. In 1937, he began working part time for a small Los Angeles ad agency, then moved back to his native Youngstown, Ohio, and became acquainted with radio syndicator Frederic W. Ziv, who brought Rifkin aboard.
Rifkin became sales manager of ZIV’s radio programs and transferred to New York City in 1946 when the company was preparing to segue into television syndication. Within two years, Rifkin was sales manager of ZIV’s TV programs, eventually directing a sales staff of more than 100 people.
ZIV, which was one of the biggest producers of TV shows at the time (weekly series including “The Abbott and Costello Show,” “The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Boston Blackie”), employed Rifkin to direct sales for numerous TV shows including “Mr. District Attorney,” “I Led Three Lives” and “Sea Hunt.”
Rifkin is survived by his wife of 54 years, Tedde (Theodora, a former opera singer), and two daughters.