Marian Rees, who won a pair of Emmy Awards during a pioneering 50-year producing career and was an officer at the TV Academy, Women in Film and the PGA, has died. She was 90. She died August 26 in Bainbridge Island, WA.
Born on October 31, 1927, in Le Mars, IA, Rees moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s. In 1955, she joined Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin’s Tandem Productions and was associate producer on TV tributes to Frank Sinatra and Ethel Barrymore and the Emmy-winning 1958 special An Evening with Fred Astaire. While at Tandem, she also was associate producer on the pilots of All in the Family (1971) and its spinoff Sanford & Son a year later.
Rees left Tandem in 1973 and joined Tomorrow Entertainment, where she worked on numerous productions including Orphan Train and the multiple-Emmy-winning Tell Me Where It Hurts. She later joined the NRW Company as VP and was the executive producer of Angel Dusted (1981) and The Marva Collins Story, a 1981 Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation starring Cicely Tyson.
In 1981, Rees formed her own independent production company, Marian Rees Associates, which was rare for a woman at that time. Anne Hopkins, who had worked with Rees at Tandem, also joined the new company. In order to fund her productions, Rees mortgaged her home and eventually persevered when CBS agreed to produce the company’s first television film, Miss All-American Beauty (1982). In the next two years, she also was exec producer of telepics Between Friends, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett for HBO, and License to Kill for CBS.
In 1984, Rees produced the Hallmark TV movie Love Is Never Silent, starring Mare Winningham as a woman who is her deaf parents’ window to the speaking world. The pic earned six Emmys noms and won two, including Rees’ first career statuette, which she shared for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special.
Rees and her partner Anne Hopkins producer 40 films together, including the Kyra Sedgwick starrer Miss Rose White (1992), which earned 10 Emmy noms and won Rees her second career trophy, for Outstanding TV Movie.
She also won the 1988 Showmanship Award from the Publicists Guild.
Her career also included two stints as president of Women in Film along with being VP of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, co-chair of the National Council for Families and Television and VP Television for the Producers Guild of America. She also served on the boards of such entities as the American Film Institute, Women in Film, The Humanitas Children’s Award and the Producers Guild of America.
Rees is survived by Hopkins, her longtime companion; a sister, Natalie Rees; and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service is set for 2 PM October 20 at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church on Bainbridge Island.
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