Longtime TV executive Howard H. Lipstone, whose career spanned five decades in the industry, died in Los Angeles on August 24 from the effects of a recent stroke. He was 87.
Lipstone, along with his business partner Alan Landsburg, founded Alan Landsburg Productions in 1970, and the company played an important role in the development of early “reality” programming and the socially conscious made-for-TV movies and miniseries genre in the 1970s and ’80s.
As president and executive in charge of production at Alan Landsburg Productions, Lipstone guided such projects as “Adam,” the true story of missing child Adam Walsh, whose kidnapping and murder spurred the establishment of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; “The Ryan White Story,” which spotlighted AIDS and the reality of its impact on society; and “Bill,” the story of an intellectually disabled man that garnered star Mickey Rooney a Golden Globe. Other well-received telepics included “A Stoning in Fulham County” and “Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story.”
Perhaps most enduring of the programs produced under Lipstone’s leadership was the original “In Search Of…” series with host, Leonard Nimoy. The popular series ran for six seasons, and continues to be seen in many foreign markets around the world. The company brought the long-running reality ABC series “That’s Incredible!” and “Those Amazing Animals” to viewers, offering a new kind of live studio and filmed segment mix. Variations of this program format are still being used in the creation of new television shows today. Lipstone and Landsburg turned next to the sitcom arena, and enjoyed extremely successful runs of “Gimme a Break” and “Kate and Allie” well into the late ’80s.
In 1985 Lipstone and Landsburg re-formed their successful company as the Landsburg Company, with Lipstone continuing as president but adding COO duties.
Lipstone was born in Chicago. His father headed the music department at Paramount Studios for more than 20 years. Lipstone graduated from USC with a degree in film. His first job was assistant to the general manager at KTLA Los Angeles. He then moved on to become film & program director at KABC, and then on to head of production at Ivan Tors Studios. By the time he met up with Alan Landsburg, Lipstone had gained experience in production budgeting, business affairs and operations.
The pair remained partners and close friends until Landsburg’s death in 2014.
Lipstone and his late wife were longtime supporters of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and numerous local and national Jewish institutions, foundations and causes.
His wife of 57 years, Jane, who worked as a public relations professional and as a producer of lifestyle documentaries, pre-deceased him in 2013 at age 82.
Howard is survived by two sons, Lewis and Greg; three grandchildren; and his partner for the last two years, Elaine Caplow. Lewis is the founder-owner of the post-production facility Westside Media Group, and Greg was a founding partner and board member at ICM Partners and was recently announced as the new CEO of All3Media America. Howard is also survived by his brother, Ronald.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, August 27, at 1 p.m. at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. Donations may be made in Lipstone’s memory to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center online at cedars-sinai.edu/Giving or mailed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Community Relations and Development/Development Services, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Suite 2416, Los Angeles, CA 90048.