John T. Reynolds
1921 - 2008, Montecito
Broadcasting Pioneer, former CBS President, John T. Reynolds 1921 - July 14, 2008
A broadcasting pioneer and former president of CBS, Reynolds began his career in television after his World War II service as a flight instructor on B-25 bombers, at a time when fewer than 37,000 TV sets were in operation throughout the USA. While at CBS, he was responsible for production supervision of such classic series as Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Wild, Wild West and Have Gun, Will Travel.
Born in Mattoon, Ill. In 1921, Reynolds landed his first TV job in 1949 in Los Angeles at the Don Lee Broadcasting System. In 1951, he was named vice- president and general manager at KHJ-TV (KCAL today) in Hollywood. He remained at the station until 1959, when he joined the CBS Television Network as West Coast vice-president. Three years later, Reynolds was named senior vice-president of the network.
A long-time fan of the Western genre, Reynolds took particular pride in being responsible for many of CBS' most enduringly popular Western series. (He personally championed a young actor named Clint Eastwood for the role of Rowdy Yates on Rawhide.) Other successful shows produced on his watch included The Twilight Zone, The Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, The Red Skelton Show and The Judy Garland Show. In 1965, Reynolds was named president of CBS - then widely known as the "Tiffany Network"- and oversaw the network's transition to broadcasting all programs in color while CBS aired 14 of the top 15 shows on TV. He returned to Los Angeles in 1968 to become president of the television division of Paramount Pictures, where he supervised production of such series as Star Trek, The Brady Bunch and Mission: Impossible.
In 1970, Reynolds was asked by Gene Autry to join Autry's Golden West Broadcasters, which owned a number of radio stations along with KTLA-TV and the California Angels baseball team. While with Golden West, Reynolds collaborated with producer Arnold Shapiro to make Scared Straight, the only documentary ever to be awarded both an Emmy and an Oscar. He later was executive producer for the CBS TV-movie Scared Straight - Another Story, which won the Scott Newman Award for network program excellence in dealing with the problem of drug abuse by young people.
After retiring from active involvement in television, Reynolds continued to express his love for the American West in 1995, when he designed, edited and published Edward H. Bohlin - Saddlemaker for the Stars, a commemorative limited-edition book that received the Award of Merit in the 1997 Western Book Exhibition. In 2002, he published a tribute to western artist Edward Borein, Etchings of the West, containing ten etchings pulled from the original Borein plates. At the time of his death, at home in Montecito, Reynolds was working on a film about Borein's early years with his son, writer William C. Reynolds. His beloved wife Jane (the two were married for 67 years), two sons and their wives and three grandchildren survive him.