Sitcom Producer Al Simon Dies at 88

Wednesday, May 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Al Simon, who produced some of early television's most successful sitcoms, has died. He was 88.

Simon, who had Alzheimer's disease, died Thursday, according to his sister-in-law, Ann Rutherford Dozier of Beverly Hills.

Simon produced ``The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show'' in the 1950s and is credited with helping develop a method for preserving the live quality of broadcasts on film, which led to the first summer reruns and spawned the syndication industry.

Simon later became president of Filmways Productions, where he was responsible for several 1960s sitcoms including ``The Beverly Hillbillies,'' ``Petticoat Junction,'' ``Green Acres'' and ``Mr. Ed.''

He began his career during the television industry's infancy, creating live programs shot in Hollywood.

In 1950, he worked on Ralph Edwards' game show ``Truth or Consequences,'' in which contestants were asked questions and had to pay for wrong answers by performing goofy stunts.

Sponsors pressured Edwards to deliver the program to East Coast viewers and improve the picture quality, so Simon and Edwards used three movie cameras loaded with 35-millimeter film to record the action with the same picture quality of a live broadcast.

As a result, ``Truth or Consequences'' became the first show regularly filmed before a live studio audience.

He later helped Desi Arnaz adapt the three-camera system for ``I Love Lucy.'' Arnaz and Lucille Ball sold the high-quality prints to independent stations for reruns and made millions.

Simon is survived by his second wife, Caro Jones Simon; son David of Los Angeles; granddaughter Lisa Simon, also of Los Angeles. His first wife, the former Judith Rutherford, died in 1968.