Henry “Hank” Rieger, former prexy of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, died of natural causes in Oceanside, Calif., on March 5. He was 95.
In his 40 years with the TV Academy, Rieger served as prexy of the Hollywood chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was later named TV Academy president. He also worked as editor and publisher of Emmy magazine, which he created for the org.
“Hank Rieger worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the television academy,” TV Academy chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in as statement. “He believed in the Academy’s ability to have a positive impact on the entire entertainment industry, and we are deeply grateful for all he contributed.”
Rieger served as bureau chief for United Press Intl. (UPI) for more than 20 years beginning in the 1940s. He took a leave of absence from UPI to serve as press attaché for the U.S. consul general in Singapore in 1953.
Beginning in 1965, Rieger spent 15 years as the West Coast director of press and publicity for NBC TV and promoted popular shows including “Bonanza,” “I Spy,” “Star Trek,” “Laugh In,” “Sanford and Son” and “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.” His tenure at NBC also led him to travel overseas with Bob Hope when the famed comic entertained U.S. troops.
Rieger left NBC in 1979 to operate his own PR firm and became the West Coast PR rep for then-fledgling network ESPN – a relationship he maintained until his death.
After growing up in Phoenix, Rieger attended the U. of Arizona and USC, where he later became an adjunct faculty member in the School of Journalism. He served in the Army during WWII and left the military as a major.
In addition to his work at NBC, Rieger served as VP of the Special Olympics in California. He was also part of the organizing committee that sought to bring the 1984 Summer Olympics to L.A.
Rieger was honored with the TV Academy’s Syd Cassyd Award in 1994 for his long and distinguished service.
He is survived by a sister.