Lee Rich: Who in mid-life changed careers and at first failed before he became a top Hollywood producer.
If you are familiar with such landmark Hollywood television shows as “The Waltons,” “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” “Flamingo Road,” and “Falcon Crest,” you know of some of the many shows Lee was involved in producing.
If you are aware of such movies as “Helter Skelter” (1976), “Being There” (1979), “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1981) and “An Officer and a Gentleman,” (1982), you know of some of the movies Lee produced.
And later, as MGM/UA chairman, he authorized such movies as “Moonstruck” (1987), “Rain Man” (1988) and “A Fish Called Wanda” (1988).
But here is what you may not know. Lee was an advertising executive who walked away from a very successful career at the age of 47 to pursue his dream of producing television shows. And at first he seemingly failed, as he produced no big hit shows.
Discouraged, Lee returned to New York and to his advertising career.
But at the age of 51, in 1969, Lee returned to Hollywood for he had discovered his heart was into storytelling, which is what television shows and movies really are, and he left a major income and financial security to pursue a field in which he could go broke.
But Lee went where his heart took him.
That year, he and Merv Adelson formed Lorimar Productions and in 1972, they launched what would be their first big hit, “The Waltons” (1972 to 1981), which would later turn into a series of “The Waltons” television movies as well.
And for Lee the hits kept coming. For the rest of his life, Lee was fascinated by stories and loved to produce programming as all of his hit shows give testimony to. But on May 24, 2012 at the age of 93 he passed away of lung cancer at his Los Angeles home.
At the time of his passing, Lee was reading as many as two books a day, according to his former wife (1964 to 1983) and longtime companion, actress Pippa Scott.
Lee is survived by Ms. Scott and by five children and seven grandchildren. But his survivors also include fans from all over the world who love his television shows and movies, some of which are now part of Hollywood lore.
“He never stopped loving the great stories,” Ms. Scott told The New York Times. “To Lee, ‘story’ was everything.”
Success Tip of the Week:
If you have a dream, even if you are middle aged as Lee was, or even older, put your heart into that dream for it could bring you the fulfillment you have been seeking.
To view a two minute video where Lee explains the casting of “Dallas,” please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXZiHNgc2ck&noredirect=1. To see his Los Angeles Times and New York Times obits, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/26/local/la-me-lee-rich-20120526 and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/arts/television/lee-rich-a-founder-of-lorimar-productions-dies.html
In the next KazanToday:
How a failed rock ‘n’ roll career led a man to build a restaurant empire.
Note: Lee was an engaging and successful man, but one action he took early in his ad career I find reprehensible, yet I judge the act and not the man.
During the U.S. Communist witch hunts of the 1950’s, on behalf of his client Procter & Gamble, Lee helped enforce the “black list,” meaning producers, directors, writers and actors accused of being Communist sympathizers could not find work in the entertainment industry.