Don Durgin, a former president of NBC Television, died Dec. 26 in New York of what was believed to be a brain aneurysm. He was 79.
Durgin earned a bachelor’s degree Princeton U. and a law degree at New York U., served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and started his career at ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding before moving in 1949 to NBC, where he worked in advertising and promotion.
He headed ABC’s radio division for several years, returning to NBC in 1957 as vice president in charge of sales. He was named president of NBC Television in 1965 and exec VP of the network in 1973.
Durgin was a champion of televising feature films, and during his time at the helm, the Peacock web expanded production of originals, including dramas and news.
He also ramped up a slate of celeb-hosted variety specs, including those toplined by Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Bill Cosby.
After leaving NBC in 1975, he returned to advertising, first as president of McCaffrey & McCall and then exec VP of Dunn & Bradstreet, where he oversaw broadcast operations and the book and magazine divisions. He later was vice chairman of Newsweek before retiring in 2001.
Durgin is survived by his wife, Catherine.