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.
Rebecca Eaton at the Q&A in New York celebrating the premiere of "Downton Abbey, Season 6" on MASTERPIECE on PBS. Photo credit: Stephanie Berger/PBS
|Born||November 7, 1947|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation||Television producer, film producer|
|Spouse(s)||Paul Robert Cooper (1984-present)|
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.
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.
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.
By 2011, she had been executive producer of the show for more than 25 of its 40 years on the air.
In 1984, Eaton married sculptor Paul Robert Cooper. Their 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.
Eaton's honors include 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, 16 Peabody Awards, six Golden Globes, and two Academy Award nominations (for the Masterpiece co-production Mrs. Brown. Queen Elizabeth II has honored her with an honorary OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire). In 2011 she was one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World".
- "Rebecca Eaton - The 2011 TIME 100 - TIME". TIME.com. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- The Paley Center for Media, "Rebecca Eaton: Television Producer"
- Gillian Anderson, "Rebecca Eaton, TV Producer", Time Magazine, April 21, 2011.
- PBS, "PBS Honors Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece Executive Producer, with 'Be More' Award