Ken Greengrass, an Emmy-nominated music and television producer and a personal manager who helped guide the careers of Diahann Carroll, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Florence Henderson, Art Garfunkel, John Pizzarelli, the Highwaymen, “Sesame Street’s” Bob McGrath, as well as producers and writers in the television industry, died in New York on April 10 after a brief illness. He was 87.
Greengrass began his career in the entertainment industry as a professional trumpet player, and his knowledge of music led to a career managing artists and producing many of their albums, garnering dozens of gold records.
As executive producer of television shows for all three major television networks, Greengrass was nominated for several Emmy Awards and won for NBC’s “How the Beatles Changed the World.” Other award-winning programs included “A Piece of Cake,” “C’mon Saturday” and primetime special “My Father the Circus King,” which marked the first time an outside producer was permitted to film the Ringling Brothers circus family at work. In 2001, Greengrass produced a two-hour special for the Travel Channel, “The Secrets of San Simeon,” starring Patti Hearst.
Greengrass exec produced the ABC special “C’est la vie,” starring Diahann Carroll and Maurice Chevalier, and the ABC After School Specials “The Unforgivable Secret” and “Sometimes I Don’t Love My Mother.” Greengrass packaged and produced “America Alive,” a live, one-hour weekly strip on NBC that was a forerunner of the current magazine format television shows.
Greengrass was executive producer of the Easter Seals and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation Telethons for many years, helping to raise millions of dollars for those charities. He was a member of the Friars Club for more than 55 years and served on its board of directors. He was chairman-producer of the New York Friars Club Celebrity “Roast” and in early 1998 conceived the idea of broadcasting the Friars Roast as a television special.
Born in the Bronx, he graduated from the Manhattan School of Music.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gerry; two sons; and two grandchildren. Donations may be made to the Friars Foundation at 57 E. 52nd St., New York, NY 10022.