National News

Veteran TV impresario Robert Halmi Sr. dies at 90

By Frazier Moore, The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Prolific TV producer Robert Halmi, Sr., has died.

Halmi died Wednesday in his New York City home at 90, said spokesman Russ Patrick.

The Hungarian-born Halmi found success as a magazine photographer after arriving in America in 1951, shooting pictures for such publications as Life and Sports Illustrated.

But in a mid-career switch in the mid-1960s, he turned to moving pictures. During the next half-century he produced more than 200 programs and miniseries for television.

His specialty was family-friendly entertainment, with TV projects including "The Josephine Baker Story," the Bette Midler-starring "Gypsy," ''Merlin," ''Dinotopia" and "The Lion in Winter" with Glenn Close.

Other projects included TV versions of "The Odyssey," ''Alice in Wonderland," ''Gulliver's Travels," starring Ted Danson, and "In Cold Blood," with Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts.

Teamed with his son, Robert Halmi, Jr., he claimed every project was a passion project, including the 1994 miniseries version of "Scarlett," Alexandra Ripley's sequel to "Gone With the Wind," which he defended as not a rip-off of the world's most beloved movie, but "an eight-hour study in American history."

Still active well into the new millennium, he produced the TV miniseries "Neverland" in 2011, and a year later a new version of "Treasure Island," starring Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood.

"Today's producers are just money people who have X number of dollars, and with them they buy people, mostly on the phone," Halmi told The Associated Press in 1993. "I'm somebody with pretty good taste who goes one step further. With the creative process, everything has to be nurtured. I know on every project, every day, where it stands dollars-and-cents-wise, but I also know did someone have a cold."

His projects were honoured with 136 Emmy Awards. A Peabody Award citation hailed him as "perhaps the last of the great network television impresarios."

Halmi recently had begun filming "Olympus," a mythological series for the Syfy channel.

"There are two English words which I never could understand or cope with ever since I came to this country," he told The AP. "One is 'security.' The other is 'retirement.'"

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