TV producer was one of Ted Turner's top lieutenants

Robert Wussler, a TV producer and exec who was one of Ted Turner’s top lieutenants during the formative years of his cable empire, died June 5 in Westport, Conn. He was 73.

Wussler served as senior exec veep at Turner Broadcasting System in the 1980s, working with Turner on a range of business development and management issues during the period when the company launched CNN, Headline News, TNT, Turner Sports, the Goodwill Games and numerous other ventures.

From 1989-92, Wussler was prexy of sat-TV company Comsat Video Enterprises, a pioneer in satellite delivery of entertainment programming. In recent years he worked as a media consultant through his Wussler Group shingle.

A native of Newark, N.J., Wussler got his start in the CBS mailroom in 1957. Over the next 15 years, he rose to become prexy of the network and prexy of CBS Sports. He spent several years as exec producer and director of special events, producing thousands of hours of programming including coverage of such landmark events as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the moon landing and President Nixon’s trip to China. Wussler also headed the Eye’s Chicago O&O, WBBM-TV, from 1972-1974.

In the late 1970s, Wussler ran his own programming company, Pyramid Enterprises, which specialized in syndicated fare for international markets, including Japan, France and the former Soviet Union. He was recruited to TBS by Turner in 1980.

Survivors include six children and six grandchildren.

The family requests that donations be made to support palliative care or cancer research at Yale-New Haven Hospital, P.O. Box 1849, New Haven, CT, 06508; or the Comprehensive Pain Center at the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, 1121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 100, Portland, OR, 97205.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more