Emmy-nommed longtime TV director-producer Mel Ferber, who oversaw the landmark live two-hour TV presentation of “Wonderful Town” and the pilot for “60 Minutes” as well as many other shows and was an exec producer/creator of “Good Morning America,” died June 19 in L.A. from heart disease. He was 80.
Raised in New York, he was a grad of City College of N.Y. and became a WWII hero when, after landing at Utah Beach, he and four other members of his unit captured 464 German soldiers and used their weapons to rearm a French battalion (a feat that earned him the Croix de Guerre w/Silver Star). He took up directing-producing in the nascent TV biz after his return to civilian life.
While on staff at CBS, he directed “Wonderful Town,” the first live two-hour show on TV. Later he earned Emmy nominations for his work as executive producer and creator of “Good Morning America” and executive producer of CBS’ “Calendar.” He produced the pilot of “60 Minutes” and directed the pilot of “Happy Days.”
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He also directed and/or produced many television shows, including “Studio One,” “That Was the Week That Was,” “Walter Cronkite’s 21st Century,” “National Geographic,” “The Odd Couple,” “McMillan and Wife,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “Quincy,” “Alice,” “Diff’rent Strokes” and many more.
He was particularly proud to have been the executive producer for television and radio for the 1972 Democratic National Convention and was a long-standing and active member of the Directors Guild of America.
He is survived by his wife, actress Betty Lou Robinson (aka Bette Ferber); four children including screenwriter Julie Ferber Frank; six grandchildren; and four siblings.
Contributions can be made to the Cedars-Sinai Alumni Assn. Fund for the further education of medical residents and fellows: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8391 Beverly Blvd, PMB 294, Los Angeles, CA 90048.