Frederic W. Ziv, known as the “father of television syndication” and for producing such series as “Bat Masterson,” “Sea Hunt,” “Highway Patrol,” and “The Cisco Kid,” died at his Cincinnati home Oct. 13. He was 96.
Other shows that his company created, produced and licensed, included “Boston Blackie,” “I Led Three Lives,” “Men of West Point,” “Science Fiction Theatre,” “Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre” and numerous others.
Ziv built a reputation as a pioneering producer, writer, salesman and promoter of syndicated TV and radio series. By selling many of his 80 TV shows — some of them classics of early U.S. television — to numerous local stations, Ziv allowed smaller advertisers to gain access to quality programming.
Ziv recognized the potential of television entertainment before the medium took off, and he began producing series in 1948 while continuing to produce and syndicate radio dramas such as “Bold Venture,” which starred the husband-and-wife team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
A Cincinnati native and graduate of the U. of Michigan law school, Ziv began his show business career in 1937 selling commercials for radio programs. He never practiced law and remained in Cincinnati rather than moving to Hollywood, a town he once described as a place where “everybody talks big ideas and big numbers, then settles for less.”
Ziv helped write scripts as well as produce shows, and helped develop an innovative quick-cut editing technique to match “Highway Patrol” star Broderick Crawford’s rapid-fire delivery. He later sold his company to United Artists.
He served on numerous art boards, authored “The Valiant Muse” and “The Business of Writing,” and taught for 22 years at the U. of Cincinnati College’s Conservatory of Music (CCM) as Distinguished Professor of Electronic Media. beginning in 1968. In 1988, CCM established the Frederic W. Ziv Award to honor outstanding broadcasting graduates.
Survivors include a son, daughter, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.