Bob Banner

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Bob Banner
Born (1921-08-15)August 15, 1921
Ennis, Texas, U.S.
Died June 15, 2011(2011-06-15) (aged 89)
Los Angeles
Occupation Television producer, writer and director
Years active 1948–1997

Robert James Banner, Jr. (August 15, 1921 – June 15, 2011[1]) was an American producer, writer and director. From 1967 to 1972 he co-produced The Carol Burnett Show.

Life and career[edit]

Bob was a native of Ennis, Texas, and credited his hometown with providing him the opportunity to prepare for his career. In high school he accompanied every singer in town, played in the high school band and was part-time organist in the Presbyterian Church. He credited band director Thomas Granger as the mentor who gave the biggest push to send him on his way. While a junior in high school he assisted Mr. Granger in writing and arranging the school Alma Mater "Maroon and White" that has lasted since 1937.

He attended Southern Methodist University where he arranged for the Mustang Band and the Pigskin Revue, directed Script and Score, and organized his dance band that toured with Interstate Theaters Production of College Capers, where he met his wife, Alice.

After college, he served three years on a destroyer in the United States Navy.

Bob began his career in television in 1948. While pursuing his PhD and teaching radio courses on campus at Northwestern University, Banner worked evenings in Chicago at local television station WMAQ as a production assistant on the children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Advancements came quickly in those early days, and he soon became director of Garroway at Large, a local show that was picked up by NBC.

Fred Waring, impressed with his directorial skill, asked Banner to join him at CBS as producer/director of the new Fred Waring Show. The challenge of working in this new experimental medium proved great enough to lure Bob away from academia. So, with only eleven hours needed to obtain his doctorate degree, he opted to leave Northwestern to pursue a television career in New York City.

While in New York, Bob also directed Omnibus, hosted by Alistair Cooke. The weekly series on CBS is often credited as the forerunner to television's cultural PBS network. In the early 1950s, he moved to Los Angeles when the once-experimental medium had matured and was heading west.

During the Golden Age of Television, Bob was one of the prime movers of variety programming. The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, which he produced and directed, garnered myriad awards including three Emmy Awards, two Christopher Awards, and two Peabody Awards.

In 1958, he formed Bob Banner Associates (BBA). BBA's first production was The Garry Moore Show with regulars Durward Kirby, Carol Burnett, and Marion Lorne. The program ran for 218 episodes and won several Emmys, including one for Carol Burnett.

In the early 1960s, Carnegie Hall was targeted for demolition and Bob was asked by Isaac Stern to produce a special to save the cultural landmark. Salute to Jack Benny at Carnegie Hall starred Isaac Stern, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Van Cliburn, Benny Goodman, and Roberta Peters.

This was quickly followed by another special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, starring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett which garnered three Emmys and the International Golden Rose Award.

Death[edit]

According to the Associated Press, Banner died on June 15, 2011 in Los Angeles at age 89.[2] Family spokeswoman Lauren Cottrell told the Los Angeles Times that Banner died of Parkinson's disease at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital retirement community in suburban Woodland Hills. In recent years, Bob lived with his wife, Alice in Calabasas, California. Their three sons, Baird, Robert III, and Chuck live in Los Cerrillos, Dallas, and Los Angeles, respectively.

Posthumous lawsuit[edit]

A year after Banner's death, BBA filed a lawsuit against Carol Burnett's production company Whacko Inc. over royalty rights regarding the distribution of the syndicated half-hour show "Carol Burnett and Friends" on television, and The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family episodes on home video.[3] Whacko, Inc. representatives have countered during (still ongoing) litigation that Banner left the show after five years, and therefore no sketches from those first five years were included on "Carol Burnett and Friends" episodes, nor on any shows released on DVD.[4]

Filmography[edit]

Producer credits[5][edit]

Film/Television Year Note
Real Kids, Real Adventures 1997 TV series (unknown episodes)
Amazing Music 1996 TV
Angel Flight Down TV
Happy Birthday, George Gershwin! 1995 TV
The Sea-Wolf 1993 TV
Uptown Comedy Club 1992 TV series
Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus 1991 TV
Showtime at the Apollo 1987–1996 TV series (unknown episodes)
Star Search 1983–1986 3 episodes
Andy Williams' Early New England Christmas 1982 TV
Battle of the Las Vegas Show Girls 1981 TV
The Way They Were TV
Solid Gold 1980 TV series (unknown episodes)
If Things Were Different TV
The Darker Side of Terror 1979 TV
A Special Sesame Street Christmas 1978 TV
My Husband Is Missing TV
Bud and Lou TV
A Salute to American Imagination TV
Easter by the Sea TV
Perry Como, Las Vegas Style 1976 TV
The Carol Burnett Show 1967–1972 TV
Christmas in Austria 1976 TV
The Last Survivors 1975 TV
Journey from Darkness TV
Lisa, Bright and Dark 1973 TV
Thicker Than Water 9 episodes
Mongo's Back in Town 1971 TV
My Sweet Charlie 1970 TV
John Davidson at Notre Dame 1967 TV
Warning Shot
Carol + 2 1966 TV
The Entertainers 1964–1965 TV
Once Upon a Mattress 1964 TV
An Evening with Carol Burnett 1963 TV
Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall 1962 TV
Kings of Broadway TV
Diagnosis: Unknown 1960 TV series (unknown episodes)
Candid Camera 1960–1967 TV series (unknown episodes)
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show 1958 1 episode
The Dave Garroway Show 1953 TV series (unknown episodes)

Director credits[5][edit]

TV Series Year Note
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show 1958 1 episode
Producers' Showcase 1956 1 episode
The Dave Garroway Show 1953 TV series (unknown episodes)

Writer[5][edit]

Film/TV Series Year Note
Amazing Music 1996 TV
Happy Birthday, George Gershwin! 1995 TV

Awards and honors[edit]

Other recognition over the years include:

  • Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Northwestern University
  • Distinguished Service medal as VP of ATAS.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award from Southern Methodist University
  • Dallas TACA Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  • 6 Christopher Awards
  • 5 Awards of Excellence
  • 1 Emmy Award

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douglas Martin (June 16, 2011). = deathsobituaries "Bob Banner Dies at 89; Producer in TV's Infancy". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Bob Banner, TV pioneer and Ennis native, dies at age 89". The Dallas Morning News. June 16, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ http://news.lalate.com/2012/11/22/carol-burnett-sued-by-bob-banner-associates-for-dvds/
  4. ^ Reynolds, M. (November 27, 2012). Production Company Sues Carol Burnett. CourthouseNews.com archive. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c BannerCaswell Productions & Bob Banner Associates

External links[edit]