July 9, 1946|
Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.
January 29, 2004 (aged 57)|
Burbank, California, U.S.
A native of Massachusetts, Bunim began her career in daytime dramas. She oversaw more than 2,500 hours of programming as executive producer of Search for Tomorrow (1974–1981), As the World Turns (1981–1984), Santa Barbara (1984–1987) and Loving (1989–1990). She subsequently developed numerous shows in her job as VP of tape programs for New World Entertainment.
Bunim founded Bunim-Murray with business partner Jonathan Murray. Agent Mark Itkin of the William Morris Agency put the two together to develop a scripted soap opera for MTV. When that was too expensive, they decided to try an unscripted soap and The Real World was born. "We knew within 20 minutes of shooting that we had a show," Bunim said.
Her company, Bunim/Murray Productions, spearheaded the reality show genre. Among the numerous other reality programs and reality game show programs that Bunim co-created over the years, include: Road Rules; Love Cruise; Making the Band; The Challenge (formerly known as Real World/Road Rules Challenge and spun off from The Real World and Road Rules); the reality feature film, The Real Cancun; the real-life daily syndication, Starting Over; as well as Fox's The Simple Life.
- "Mary-Ellis Bunim, 57, a Producer and Pioneer in Reality TV". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 3, 2004. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- "'Real World' co-creator dies". CNN. January 31, 2004. Retrieved April 26, 2008.
- "Mary-Ellis Bunim (1946-2004) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
- Flaherty, Mike (January 8, 2018). "Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray: Hall of Fame Tribute". Emmys. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
| Executive producer of Search for Tomorrow
January 1974 – Fall 1981
| Executive producer of As the World Turns
Fall 1981 – October 1984
Bridget and Jerome Dobson
| Executive producer of Santa Barbara
(with Bridget and Jerome Dobson)
October 1984 – November 1987
Jill Farren Phelps
| Executive producer of Loving
December 3, 1989 – April 1990
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