Edwin T. Vane, a former ABC television executive and president of Group W Productions, died of natural causes on June 26 in Los Angeles. He was 93.
A Fordham University graduate, Vane started his career as a page at NBC. After working his way up to become a daytime television executive, he was pitched a game show idea by Merv Griffin in 1963 that was intriguing, but lacked form. Vane suggested a three-stage structure, each with increasing value, capped by a final round that gave trailing contestants a chance to win. Thus, Jeopardy! was created and debuted in March 1964.
In 1965, Vane became VP of daytime programming at ABC. Under his leadership, ABC introduced such shows as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, Let’s Make a Deal, One Life To Live and Good Morning America. He also developed The Beatles cartoon series, which became the highest-rated show in the history of Saturday morning television.
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Vane was then promoted to ABC’s VP of primetime programming, where he helped create The American Music Awards and supervised hits like Happy Days, and Marcus Welby, M.D., as well as the critically acclaimed telefilms The Missiles of October and Eleanor and Franklin.
Vane left ABC in 1979 to become president and CEO of Group W Productions. Under his auspices, the company produced and distributed such syndicated series as The Mike Douglas Show, Hour Magazine, and PM Magazine.
Vane was a member of the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He also co-wrote a college textbook on television programming.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 48 years, Claire, in 1998. He is survived by his sons, Richard, a longtime movie producer; Christopher, a television writer/producer; Timothy, an Army lieutenant colonel; and Paul (Brendan Paul), a salesman, as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
No memorial details have been determined.
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