Ernest “Ernie” R. Buttelman, pioneering Emmy-winning television engineer for ABC Network, died of heart failure May 7 in Mission Hills, Calif. He was 77.
A native of San Francisco, Buttelman came to Los Angeles as a young man to act, but by 1950 he was behind the cameras in the new medium of television.
He began in New York, moved to Los Angeles in 1954 and in 40 years with the network was responsible for such technical innovations as putting a camera in the Goodyear blimp to shoot golf tournaments, helping ABC make the switch from black-and-white to color and pioneering digital visual effects on live television.
One of his first California feats for ABC was handling the then-rare “live” remote telecast of Disneyland’s opening day festivities July 17, 1955.
Adept at technical cutting for musical variety shows, Buttelman subsequently worked on specials for such artists as Julie Andrews, Pat Boone, Lily Tomlin, Barry Manilow and Olivia Newton-John.
Buttelman earned five Emmys for outstanding technical direction for such productions as “The Missiles of October” in 1974 and three Emmys for his work on Olympic Games telecasts.