Merv Adelson, who produced some of TV’s biggest hits such “The Waltons” and “Dallas” and a former husband to television journalist Barbara Walters, has died at 85.
Adelson died Tuesday of a stroke in a Los Angeles medical facility, said Ryan Rayston, a family friend and Adelson’s executive assistant.
Adelson was once one of the most powerful independent moguls in Hollywood, a Jay Gatsby-like figure. Adelson was an influential executive in the entertainment industries for more than 30 years.
He founded Lightforce Entertainment. Adelson also was Founding Partner and Chairman of EastWest Venture Group. In 1969 he co-founded Lorimar Telepictures Corporation, where he served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and grew Lorimar into the world’s largest producer.
The company also made “Eight is Enough, ” ”Knots Landing” and “Love Connection.”
In the 1990s and 2000s, Adelson was financially struggled and lost his fortune on bad bets. In 2003 he was forced to declare bankruptcy.
Adelson married Barbara Walters twice in the 1980s. Adelson and Walters were married from 1986 to 1992.
Current CBS Corp. president-CEO Leslie Moonves was Lorimar’s top executive during the early 1990s. He side: “Merv was a wonderful classy guy who was a mentor. He was someone I wanted to be like. I looked up to him.”