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Frances Buss Buch, first female TV director, dies at 92

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. - Frances Buss Buch, a pioneer of network TV and the first female TV director, has died.

Buch died Tuesday in a rest home near Hendersonville, her great-nephew, Mark Spencer, confirmed Saturday. She was 92.

"She was presented with an opportunity, especially as a woman, at a time when broadcasting was definitely a man's world. She seized it and had no problem getting in there and mixing it up with the guys," said Spencer, of Northbrook, Ill. "It was that boldness as a woman that led to her success."

While taking acting classes, performing off-Broadway and modeling in New York City, Buch joined CBS for a temporary job as a receptionist in July 1941 and was soon asked to be in front of the camera for various programs, then black-and-white, the family said.

Buch joined CBS Television, the fledgling video arm of the Columbia Broadcasting System, just two weeks after the Federal Communications Commission allowed commercial TV broadcasts. By 1945, CBS had promoted her to be TV's first female director.

"Everything we did was live," she said in 2008. "If you did something stupid, it was out there for everyone to see. I suppose I was nervous until I discovered I could do it."

Buch was soon directing and producing a variety of telecasts, from Brooklyn Dodgers games to musicals to crime dramas.

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