D.O.B.: November 11, 1911 (New York, NY)
D.O.D.: May 18, 2000 (Beverly Hills, CA)
Cause of Death: Alzheimer's
Location: Forest Lawn Glendale; Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage
Al Simon, a pioneering television producer of sitcoms such as "Mr. Ed" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," died May 18 in Los Angeles of Alzheimer's disease. He was 88.
Simon, who also produced the popular "George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" during the 1950s, was credited with helping to develop the three-camera system -- a technique that uses three separate movie cameras to record action for a live audience and is used to shoot sitcoms.
Even though the late Desi Arnaz was credited with developing the system because it was used in the filming of "I Love Lucy," the system was created primarily by Simon, who used it for the radio-to-TV "Truth or Consequences" in the 1940s, which became the first show on a regular basis to be filmed in 35mm before a live audience.
Simon, who entered television during its infancy in the 1940s, later became president of Filmways Prods., where he was responsible for several mid-1960s sitcoms including "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Mr. Ed," "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres."
Simon's career began in 1946, when he created one of the first live shows ever shot in Hollywood. By 1950 he was a writer for Ralph Edwards' gameshow "Truth or Consequences," which originally aired on radio.
With continuous pressure from sponsors to move the show to television and because coast-to-coast transmission did not yet exist, Edwards was relieved when Simon suggested using 35mm film instead of a kinescope to deliver a clear, crisp picture to viewers nationwide, who would have otherwise had to watch a show constructed by pointing a movie camera at a television picture tube.
Following his gig at "Truth or Consequences," Simon was hired by Arnaz to adapt the three-camera system for "I Love Lucy."
Simon, a New York native, earned a degree in English literature from Columbia U. in 1932 and later a law degree from New York U. He then taught a radio course and was director of publicity for New York's WHN before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, after which he made the move to Hollywood to begin writing for "Truth or Consequences."
Simon is survived by his second wife, Carol Jones Simon; a son; a granddaughter; and a niece.
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