Another TV legend is gone - Bob Banner died earlier this week from Parkinson's disease. He was 89.
One name will be forever bonded to his -- Carol Burnett -- but there was a time long ago when his was as much a household name as a TV producer's could become, in part because that name "Bob Banner Productions" was so firmly and visibly attached to his many highly visible productions, including "Solid Gold" and "Star Search," which he produced for a handful of years over a long run.
But especially there was "The Carol Burnett Show," a wonderful sketch comedy/variety -- brilliantly cast and directed. It was a sensation for years, a huge hit, and certainly established Burnett as one of the great stars of TV history. Much of the credit due to Banner. Burnett in fact told Dennis McLellan of the LA Times Wednesday this:
"I had worked for Bob in California in 1958 when he was doing 'The Dinah Shore Show.' I was a guest, so he knew my work. So Bob, whom I always call Bubba, called me to come over and replace [Martha Raye] on Garry's show."
"It was he who talked me into opening the show myself with questions and answers. He said, 'Carol, you can't just go out and do sketches. The audience has to get to know you first as a person.' I said, 'I can't do that. I'd be terrified that, A, the audience wouldn't ask anything and, B, that they would.'
"But he talked me into it, and it became one of my favorite things to do. And it was a good opening for the show . . . [he was] a very gentle man [and] he could always talk to me about certain things that I wasn't cottoning to so much, but whatever road he wanted us to take was terrific. He had great taste and great instincts."