Gerald Slater Dies Of Coronavirus: Public TV Pioneer & Producer Was 86

Gerald Slater dead
Read more here. David Slater via Facebook

Gerald Slater, who helped build PBS as one of its founding employees and later moved to WETA-TV, has died of coronavirus. He was 86.

Slater died April 24 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. He had been residing at a nearby assisted-living facility and also was battling bone cancer. His son, David Slater, announced the news on Facebook.

Slater began his TV career in 1961 as the head usher for The Jackie Gleason Show on CBS and rose through the ranks to become head of production for CBS News. In that role, he often could be seen sitting behind Walter Cronkite as he anchored CBS Evening News.

While at PBS in 1974, the Bronx native was key in the its move to air the Senate Watergate hearings in primetime, helping to build the pubcaster’s national profile. He would continue helping to drive PBS’ development while working for WETA/Washington from 1975-89. He and CEO Ward Chamberlain built the small outlet into a big-time operation that produced some of PBS’ staple programs.

He left public television after two decades to launch a consulting business.

Slater also was an Emmy-nominated producer, sharing an Outstanding Program Achievement – Special Events nom for 1979’s Baryshnikov at the White House.

David Slater wrote in the Facebook post about his father, “President Nixon once told my dad if he looked as good as him, he wouldn’t have lost to Kennedy.”

Along with his son, Slater is survived by his wife of 35 years, Halcy Bohen; a daughter, Helen; step-daughters Shawn, Kim and Corky; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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