Natalie Brooks Friendly, former vice president of the production company founded by her husband, longtime TV producer Ed Friendly, died May 9 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., after a 15-year battle with cancer. She was 74.
In 1974, Friendly’s company launched “Little House on the Prairie” with Natalie serving as vice president. He credited the series’ existence to his wife, who had persuaded him to acquire the TV rights to nine Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House on the Prairie” books.
Born and reared in New York, Natalie Friendly graduated with honors from Beaver College in Pennsylvania and landed a job with the New York Times in the classified advertising section, a relatively rare feat for women during the late 1940s. In 1952 she married Ed, with whom she had two children.
The family moved to Los Angeles in 1967, where she became active in the newly formed Ed Friendly Prods., which formed a joint venture with George Schlatter Prods. and produced the hit series “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in.”
In 1969, she and her husband became active in the Southern California thoroughbred racing circuit, owning more 300 horses.
The Friendlys retired from TV production in the late 1980s and moved to Rancho Santa Fe where she pursued numerous interests including genealogy, spending many years working on tome “The Friendly Family,” which garnered first place in the 1999 Anna Ford Family Book Contest.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, daughter, three grandchildren and two brothers.
In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations in her name be made to the Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Radiology Dept., P.O. Box 2669, La Jolla, CA 92038; or to the San Diego Hospice Corp., Foundation Department, 4311 Third Ave., San Diego, CA 92103.