CBS Programming Icon Michael Dann Dies

Exec behind ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Smothers Brothers;’ kept network on top of prime for many years
Publish date:

Storied programmer Michael Dann, who brought 60 Minutes, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family, among many other iconic series, to the screen, died May 27 at the age of 94. Dann, who was born in Detroit, began his career at NBC, where his many lasting marks include launching Today with Pat Weaver.

After a move to CBS, he became the programming chief in 1963, bringing the likes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Green Acres to air.  

According to the New York Times, Dann got his start in writing at the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, then wrote for radio after leaving the army. He joined NBC’s publicity department in 1948 and later moved up to the head of programming.

Dann left NBC in 1957 to head up production outfit Henry Jaffe Enterprises, then shifted to CBS to run programming, where the network enjoyed an extraordinary run of ratings primacy. In 1966, Dann bought the Republic Pictures lot in Los Angeles and created CBS Studio Center to make movies for television.

Dann clashed with Robert D. Wood, who took over as CBS president in 1969, and he later moved to Children’s Television Workshop, training his vast programming skills on a new segment of the viewing population.