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Robert Fitzgerald, TV exec at MCA, dies at 86

Yale lawyer worked with Lew Wasserman

Robert Fitzgerald, an attorney who worked with Lew Wasserman at MCA and later with David Wolper, died Jan. 18 in Santa Barbara, Calif., after a lengthy illness. He was 86.

A Yale Law School grad dissatisfied with the traditional law firm, he walked into MCA in 1956 with no appointment and applied for a job; the Yale pedigree impressed them. The agency would soon begin its multistage acquisition of Universal Studios; new entity Revue Studios was created to handle the expanding TV market.

Fitzgerald was given numerous assignments working along with Ned Tanen, Taft Schreiber and Al Dorskind. Wasserman gave Fitzgerald the task of expanding the foreign markets as well as merchandising for MCA’s many TV shows, including “Mr. Ed,” “Wagon Train” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

A 1961 trip to Japan coincided with the release of “Psycho,” and Fitzgerald’s duties included managing Hitchcock’s press junkets.

In 1962 he moved to CBS, followed two years later by a stint at Metromedia/David Wolper Prods., where he worked on the Jacques Cousteau specials. He was at Warner Bros. from 1968-71.

In 1972, he partnered with his longtime friend and documentary filmmaker Robert Snyder (“The Henry Miller Odyssey”).

In the 1970s, he moved out of the entertainment biz into commercial real estate and, later, education.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lucyanna; son Robert Jr., a sound supervisor; and daughter Susie, senior VP, AMC scripted programming; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Donations may be made to the Community Environmental Council, 26 W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

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