Lee Rich, TV producer who co-founded the Lorimar production company and brought all-time favorite shows to the tube like The Waltons, died on Thursday, May 24. At the time, Rich was 93. He passed of lung cancer while at his Los Angeles home.
Rich began working at Benton & Bowles, an advertising agency, and assisted in selling shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Danny Thomas Show. After that he formed Mirisch-Rich Productions in 1965. This company was responsible to bringing programs like Hey, Landlord and The Rat Patrol to television.
Lorimar was created with Merv Adelson in 1969 and is the company that brought a number of popular programs and movies to the TV screen. Sally Field's Sybil was a breakout role for her, and the Charles Manson tale of Helter Skelter still sends shutters down viewers' spines all these decades later. Arguably the most notable of the regular shows was The Waltons for which Rich was the executive producer. The show won 29 Emmy Awards with 85 nominations in total. Lorimar also released many movies in the theaters, including An Officer and a Gentleman. Lorimar merged with Telepictures in 1985 and then the joint company became part of Warner Brothers.
Rich next became the chairman and CEO of MGM/UA, a position he held from 1986 to 1988. During this time he was the power behind theatrical successes such as Rain Man and Baby Boom. He then left this company and formed Lee Rich Productions in 1988.
Shows and movies also credited to Rich as a producer include Passenger 57, Flamingo Road, Eight is Enough, Dallas, Kaz, The Choirboys, and Killer on Board.
Rich provided hours of drama, suspense, and family values to be enjoyed for generations to come.