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Harry Stephen Ackerman (November 17, 1912 - February 3, 1991) was an American TV producer. Shows he produced include Bewitched, The Flying Nun, and Gidget.

Harry Ackerman
Born Harry Stephen Ackerman
(1912-11-17)November 17, 1912
Albany, New York, U.S.
Died February 3, 1991(1991-02-03) (aged 78)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Court of Liberty,
Gardens of Heritage,
L-3039 G-1
Spouse(s) Mary Shipp (1939-195?; divorce) Elinor Donahue (1962–91; his death)

He was known as the "dean of television comedy," although he also was instrumental in developing dramatic films, such as The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Day Lincoln Was Shot, and The 20th Century.[1]


Early life and educationEdit

Harry Ackerman was born in Albany, New York and attended Dartmouth College as a theater arts major.[2] [1]


Ackerman began his career as a writer, but soon became a radio performer, appearing as the comic poet Wilbur W. Willoughby, Jr.[1] In 1938 he went to work as an advertising executive at Young & Rubicam.[2] In 1946 he became vice president of program operations.[1]

Ackerman began his career in television at CBS, where he started as an executive producer in New York for the network. Later he became vice president in charge of CBS programs in Hollywood, California.[1] While at CBS he helped create, develop, oversee, and/or approve the casting of Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, The Jack Benny Show, Burns and Allen, Amos 'n' Andy, Our Miss Brooks, and many other shows.[2] Ackerman was CBS-TV west coast program vice president from 1948 to 1958.[1]

He began his own production company, Harry Ackerman Prods,[1] where he immediately signed an exclusive deal with Paramount TV to create TV series, specials and feature films on a co-production basis. He also went to work on network development for Hanna-Barbera Prods. He then joined Screen Gems, which later became Columbia Pictures Television, where he worked for 15 years, from 1958 until 1973.[1] He worked on many TV shows while there, including, Father Knows Best, Bachelor Father, Leave It to Beaver, Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hazel, Grindl, Gidget, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Monkees, and The Partridge Family.[3]

In the late 1940s, before coming to Hollywood, he was involved in the beginnings of the widely heralded Suspense and Westinghouse Studio One dramatic radio anthologies.[2]


Ackerman won two Emmy Awards for his work, and was the first producer ever honored by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters at their 1974 luncheon. He was also the national president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for two terms.[1]

For his work on television, Ackerman has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6661 Hollywood Blvd since 1985.[1]

Personal LifeEdit

Ackerman was married twice. His second marriage, to actress Elinor Donahue, was in 1962. He was the adoptive father of her son from her first marriage (to Riohard Smith), and he and Donahue had three sons together.[4]


The Harry Ackerman Collection of personal papers was donated to the Dartmouth College Library in 1994 as a gift from Ackerman's widow Elinor Donahue. Ackerman, a Class of 1935 graduate, was one of the most prolific producers in the history of television, having created or co-created and produced a total of twenty-one television series, seven of which were on the air simultaneously.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Staff, Variety (1991-02-11). "Harry Ackerman". Variety. Retrieved 2017-07-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ap (1991-02-06). "Harry Ackerman, 78, TV Producer, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-02. 
  3. ^ "Harry Ackerman, 78; Landmark TV Producer". Los Angeles Times. 1991-02-05. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-02. 
  4. ^

External linksEdit