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Pioneering woman TV exec Deanne Barkley dies

Deanne Barkley, who broke through the glass ceiling in network television to become an influential executive in the early 1970s, when few women had the power to develop prime-time programs, died April 2 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She was 82.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said her son, Wilson Shirley.

Described by the Los Angeles Times in 1974 as having "more economic clout than probably any other woman in television," Barkley became vice president in charge of movies for ABC in 1972, responsible for lining up the concepts and talent to fill hundreds of prime-time hours with made-for-TV films.

Later in the decade she oversaw movie development at NBC, helping to turn novels such as James Clavell's "Shogun" and James Michener's "Centennial" into miniseries watched by millions.

Along the way she nurtured the careers of unproven writers and directors who became some of Hollywood's most prominent players, including directors Ron Howard, Joel Schumacher and John Badham.

At NBC she helped Howard, who had become a star playing Opie in "The Andy Griffith Show," go behind the camera with some of his earliest directing assignments.

"She was just terribly significant," said Mollie Gregory, a writer and producer whose 2002 book "Women Who Run the Show" chronicled the rise of women in Hollywood in the 1970s. "If you were struggling to sell material, everyone you met with then was a man . . . She was very influential for anyone who was striving to work" in TV.

-- Los Angeles Times

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