Fred Silverman, who ran ABC, CBS and NBC, has died in Los Angeles. He was 82. Silverman brought All in the Family, Happy Days, Hill Street Blues and Roots, among other esteemed series, onto the air.
He was known as having a “golden gut” for his knack for picking hit shows, though Silverman countered that the knack came from experience and hard work.
Born in New York City, Silverman got his start at WGN Chicago and then moved to WPIX New York in 1963, where he oversaw children’s programming. He joined CBS later on in 1963, named director of daytime at age 25, and greenlit Scooby-Doo in 1969. He was named CBS VP of programming in 1970, where he launched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and Hawaii Five-0, among others.
Silverman moved to ABC in 1975, where he was president. Shows he brought to air at the time include The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
He was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1977, with the headline “TV’s Master Showman.”
In 1978, Silverman went to NBC as the president. There, he launched Diff’rent Strokes, Cheers and Hill Street Blues, among other hit shows.
NBC hit a rough patch in prime in 1981, and Silverman moved on. He had a successful next chapter as a producer. Fred Silverman Company shows included Matlock and In the Heat of the Night on NBC and Jake and the Fat Man on CBS. He also had a Perry Mason movie franchise on NBC.
Silverman was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.