Edward W. Harbert II, a former producer of “The Tonight Show” and exec producer of NYT Prods. and the father of NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert and CAA agent Chris Harbert, died of natural causes in Westwood, Calif., on Sunday. He was 88.
During a 45-year career in the entertainment, advertising and publishing industries, Harbert was exec producer of the New York Times Magazine Group’s NYT Prods. from 1976-89; helped design and produce the talent segments of “The Tonight Show” early in that program’s run; and did a stint in the publicity department of MGM Studios, where he worked on films starring Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, Judy Garland and Peter Lawford.
Harbert served as a senior executive with advertising firm Kenyon & Eckhardt and then moved into magazine publishing. He worked at the Hearst Corp. before moving to the New York Times Magazine Group, where he pioneered the idea of multipurposing editorial content into educational videos and TV programming, such as “Science Times,” which was produced by CBS News.
He served on the production team of a number of Professional Golf Assn. broadcasts from 1970-80.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Harbert was drawn into WWII when his Naval ROTC unit at UC Berkeley was activated following Pearl Harbor. Harbert served on the battleship USS Missouri, which took part in the attacks on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, as well as the shelling of mainland Japan. During the signing of Japan’s surrender aboard the Missouri, he served as the “officer escort” for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s command staff.
In addition to sons Ted and Chris, Harbert is survived by his wife, Marna; two children; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Burial will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Los Angeles.