Rebecca Eaton

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Rebecca Eaton
Rebecca Eaton at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards (cropped).jpg
Rebecca Eaton at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards
Born (1947-11-07) November 7, 1947 (age 69)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Nationality American
Occupation Television producer, film producer
Spouse(s) Paul Robert Cooper (1984-present)

Rebecca Eaton OBE (born November 7, 1947) is an American television and film producer best known for introducing American audiences to British costume and countryside dramas as executive producer of the PBS Masterpiece series.

In 2011 she was one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World".[1]


Eaton was born in Boston and raised in Pasadena, California, her father a Caltech English literature professor and her mother, Katherine Emery, an actress both on Broadway (in Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour) and in film. Eaton recalls visiting New York every summer to see Broadway shows as well as spending her junior high school days lost in Jane Eyre.[2]

Eaton attended Vassar, graduating in 1969 with a BA in English literature. Her senior thesis was on James Joyce's Dubliners. In 1969-70 she was a production assistant for the BBC World Service in London. Returning to the U.S., she was in 1972 hired by WGBH in Boston, there producing Pantechnicon (a radio arts magazine) and the television programs Zoom and Enterprise.[2]

Eaton became the third executive producer of Masterpiece Theatre. Christopher Sarson was at the helm from its inception in 1971. Sarson had bought Upstairs, Downstairs from ITV. Eaton succeeded the series' second executive producer, Joan Wilson, in 1985.

Under Eaton, Masterpiece extended its reach into feature film co-production for such films as Jane Austen's Persuasion and Mrs. Brown starring Dame Judi Dench.[2]

By 2011 she had been executive producer of the show for more than 25 of its 40 years on the air.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1984 Eaton married sculptor Paul Robert Cooper. The couple's daughter was born shortly before Eaton was named executive producer of Masterpiece. She credits her husband's willingness to stay at home with having advanced her career.[2]


Eaton's honors include 31 Primetime Emmy Awards, 15 Peabody Awards, a Golden Globe, and two Academy Award nominations (for the Masterpiece co-production Mrs. Brown. Queen Elizabeth II has honored her with an honorary OBE (Officer, Order of the British Empire).[4] In 2011 she was one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World".[3]

Television series[edit]

Since becoming executive producer of Masterpiece in 1985, Eaton is credited with producing for American audiences series that include:[2][3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Rebecca Eaton - The 2011 TIME 100 - TIME". 21 April 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e The Paley Center for Media, "Rebecca Eaton: Television Producer"
  3. ^ a b c Gillian Anderson, "Rebecca Eaton, TV Producer", Time Magazine, April 21, 2011.
  4. ^ PBS, "PBS Honors Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece Executive Producer, with 'Be More' Award