TV producer, director and writer;
Born: August 8, 1921; Died: July 16, 2012.
Bill Asher, who has died aged 90 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, was an American TV pioneer behind such classics as I Love Lucy and Bewitched.
He was best known for his work on I Love Lucy, where he directed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for 100 of the show's 181 episodes between 1952 and 1957.
He also produced and directed Bewitched, which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery. Montgomery, who died in 1995, and Asher had three children together.
Asher brought Sally Field to TV screens in Gidget, and took the same sensibility to movies as director of the teen romps Beach Blanket Bingo and Beach Party, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.
Asher, who refused to be intimidated by the flame-haired Ball, joined I Love Lucy a year after it first aired and stayed until the end. He saw it become one of the most popular programmes in the world and a major influence on the development of sitcom. He next co-created The Patty Duke Show (1963-66). It featured the rising teenage star of the title in the dual roles of a New York schoolgirl into boys, ice cream and sleepovers, and her sophisticated, prim-and-proper lookalike Scottish cousin.
In the same year as The Patty Duke Show's launch he married Montgomery and suggested they work on a sitcom. On a visit to Columbia Studios the couple were shown an outline for Bewitched (1964-72). With Montgomery in the starring role and Asher directing it proved to be another landmark in sitcom history – memorable for Samantha's twitch of the nose before performing a spell. Asher and Montgomery took 20% of the hugely popular sitcom's profits.
He was born in New York, where his mother, Lillian Bonner, had been a clerical assistant at MGM Studios and his father, Ephraim, was director of publicity for Mack Sennett Comedies, before moving to Los Angeles with the family and, as EM Asher, becoming an associate producer of films such as Dracula and Frankenstein.
After the the Second World War, spent as a unit photographer in the US army, he found work at Universal as an assistant cameraman and film editor. After some low-budget films he moved into the new medium of TV.
In addition to his TV work he staged and directed President John F Kennedy's inaugural gala in 1961 and, in 1962, his birthday celebration, which included Marilyn Monroe breathlessly singing Happy Birthday.
Later in his career he directed episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) and Private Benjamin (1981-82) before retiring in 1991.
He was married four times and is survived by his fourth wife, Meredith Coffin McMachen, and six children.
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