Ralph Levy, one of the most prominent producer-directors of television’s early golden age, died Oct. 15 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe, N.M., after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
The Scranton, Pa.-born Levy studied drama at Yale and started in showbiz as manager of the Massine Ballet Co. With the advent of live television, he joined CBS, serving as director of sports at Madison Square Garden and directing such early variety shows as “The 54th Street Revue.”
Moving to California, Levy was one of the first creatives to work at the newly established CBS Television City, directing Ed Wynn’s 1949 TV show, which pioneered live network television from the West Coast.
Levy was then made producer-director of the “George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” and was Jack Benny’s first TV exec producer-director, heading that effort for seven years. He also directed the original pilot for “I Love Lucy.”
Later he worked with Bob Newhart and established the formats for such TV series as “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres.”
His film work included directing Marlon Brando in “Bedtime Story” and Doris Day and David Niven in “Do Not Disturb.” He also worked in London for a number of years in the film business.
In later years, he turned to teaching and was a member of the Board of Governors of the College of Santa Fe.
Levy is survived by his wife, Miranda, who helped establish the Santa Fe Opera, and a sister .