Writer, producer, television exec and entertainment lawyer Ben Brady died March 20 in L.A. He was 94.
Brady was founder of the Television Producers Guild and oversaw its merger with the Screen Producers Guild to form the Producers Guild of America.
He was a writer-producer of such shows as “Perry Mason,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Johnny Carson Show,” “Rawhide,” “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Outer Limits.”
He was at various times an exec at CBS, ABC and UA Television.
As a lawyer, he repped such theatrical clients as actor Bert Lahr and big band leader Paul Whiteman.
New York City native went to law school at St. Lawrence U., where he began writing daytime radio serials to support himself. After admission to the New York bar, he represented Lahr, Whiteman and other theatrical clients. But even while practicing law, he wrote for radio, including classics “The Thin Man,” “Cavalcade,” “Mr. & Mrs. North” and “Inner Sanctum.”
During WWII he was the Army’s radio production head in the Sixth Service Command under General Somervell and wrote a weekly network radio series, “Weapons for Victory.”
He was also put on special assignment to develop therapeutic music programming for wounded personnel. He wrote, directed and produced singalongs during the war for Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Cantor, Dinah Shore and others, with the albums distributed to hospitals around the world.
After WWII, he moved to Hollywood to write, direct and produce for radio programs such as “The Dinah Shore Show” and “The Steve Allen Show.” He also wrote comedy for Fred Allen, Groucho Marx and Ozzie and Harriet.
He segued to the infant TV biz, where he became a writer-producer, both in New York and Hollywood: He developed and produced “The Ken Murray Show” for CBS and “The Red Skelton Show” (1954-56) and then worked with a certain up-and-comer who guested on Skelton’s show — the result was “The Johnny Carson Show” (1956-1957).
He also developed the format with author Earl Stanley Gardner for the classic “Perry Mason” series (1957-60) and went on to produce the first 70 episodes. After that, he produced “Have Gun Will Travel” during the 1960-61 season.
Not content to write and produce, he founded the Television Producers Guild of America in the late 1950s and worked with Walter Mirisch, prexy of the Screen Producers Guild, to spearhead the 1960s merger of the two entities, forming the Producers Guild of America.
In 1962 he switched hats and became VP in charge of programming for ABC and worked with the network three years, after which he returned to series television as writer-producer of “The Outer Limits.” He wore the VP hat again, this time in charge of programs for United Artist Television.
He went on to produce and write “Rawhide” starring Clint EastwoodFrom 1970-1972 he was at CBS as an executive producer.
Asked to become a professor at California State U. Northridge, he helped develop CSUN’s Radio/TV/Film Dept. During his tenure, he wrote and published “Keys to Writing for Television & Film” and “Principles of Adaptation for Film & Television.”
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Estelle; talent-agent son David; daughter Dana; and one grandchild.