The television industry mourns the loss of Thomas W. Sarnoff, a respected NBC executive and prominent figure in the Television Academy. With an impressive career spanning decades, Sarnoff made significant contributions to the world of television, negotiating production deals, leading organizations, and producing beloved shows. His legacy as a trailblazer in the entertainment industry will forever be remembered.
Thomas W. Sarnoff Died
From 1965 to 1977, Thomas W. Sarnoff served as staff executive vice president, West Coast, and president of NBC Entertainment Corporation. During his tenure, he played a pivotal role in negotiating production deals with esteemed talent such as Bob Hope and Colonel Tom Parker for Elvis Presley’s television specials. Sarnoff also spearheaded the contracts for NBC’s Burbank Studios, solidifying the network’s presence in the entertainment industry. His leadership and creative vision propelled the production of worldwide touring family acts, including iconic collaborations with Walt Disney on productions like “Peter Pan” and “Disney on Parade.”
Entrepreneurial Ventures and Reviving Beloved Characters
After leaving NBC, Sarnoff founded his own company, Sarnoff International Enterprises Inc., where he continued to make an impact. He produced the popular “Yabba Dabba Doo” live arena tour, bringing to life beloved Hanna-Barbera characters. Additionally, Sarnoff played a significant role in reviving the iconic Gumby character for a 1987 half-hour series. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to creating engaging content allowed him to explore new avenues in the entertainment industry.
Leadership at the Television Academy
According to Yahoo, Beyond his achievements at NBC, Thomas W. Sarnoff made significant contributions to the Television Academy and Television Academy Foundation. For five decades, Sarnoff served as a vital leader, starting as the chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the 1970s. As the organization evolved into the Television Academy and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Sarnoff continued to play a pivotal role on the executive committee of the Television Academy’s board of governors. In the 1990s, he became the chairman of the Television Academy Foundation, leading the organization to new heights. Sarnoff’s visionary work included co-founding “The Interviews: An Oral History of Television” initiative, which became the largest oral history program in the entertainment industry.
Early Life and Accomplishments
Born on February 23, 1927, in New York City, Thomas W. Sarnoff was the youngest son of David Sarnoff, a renowned radio and television pioneer who founded RCA and NBC. He attended Princeton University and served as a combat engineer and signal corps instructor at West Point during World War II. Following the war, Sarnoff pursued higher education at Stanford, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration. He began his career at ABC before joining NBC in 1952.
Contributions to Various Organizations
Throughout his life, Sarnoff dedicated his time and expertise to numerous organizations. He served on the boards of the American Film Institute, Hope Enterprises, and Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. His commitment extended to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and the Research Foundation at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Sarnoff’s involvement in the reform of intermediate and secondary education in California showcased his passion for making a positive impact on society.