Bonny Dore, R.I.P.
Television producer Bonny Dore died this morning, the culmination of a long battle with blood cancer. Though she was a great friend and co-worker of mine for around thirty years, I'm not sure how old she was. Too young to have this happen to her, certainly.
Bonny began her long career in broadcasting right after she graduated from the University of Michigan. In no time at all, she was the General Manager and founder of WSDP-FM 88.1 based in Plymouth, Michigan, and soon after that, she was in New York, working in public television. She co-created the award-winning children's series Vegetable Soup for PBS and went on to create and produce another award-winning kids' educational program, Hot Fudge for ABC.
Soon after, she joined ABC in an executive capacity supervising prime-time variety shows and specials and later watching over and helping develop Saturday morning programming and After-School specials. Among the shows she kept an eye on were American Bandstand, Scooby Doo, The Krofft Supershow and Schoolhouse Rock. Around 1976, one of ABC's main suppliers hired her away and she spent around a decade as Executive Vice-President of Development and Production for Krofft Entertainment. For them, she developed and produced dozens of children's programs, variety shows and specials and TV-Movies…far more than the Internet Movie Database seems to know about.
One of my favorite TV Movies she produced was a colorful 1981 entry called Side Show. Later when she left the Kroffts and struck out on her own, she produced (actually, executive produced) a number of highly-rated mini-series including Glory Glory for HBO and Sins (starring Joan Collins) for CBS. For CBS, she also produced a situation comedy called First Impressions which introduced Brad Garrett to television…and there are so many more I could name.
She was also a Past President of Women in Film and Co-Chair of the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors, and was extremely active in both organizations. The last few years as health permitted, she was managing producers and writers while assembling film and TV projects. Every time we got together, she seemed to have nineteen deals pending.
I was saddened by the news when her wonderful husband Sandy called this afternoon with the news. Two of my best associations in the industry began one day in 1978 when Bonny hired me as a writer for Sid and Marty Krofft's company. One great association was with Sid and Marty; the other, with Bonny. (Those of you who attended the Saturday Cartoon Voices panel at the 2010 Comic-Con International may recall that I brought all three of them up on stage for an ovation.) When people ask me how I began writing for animation, I give them a simple answer: Bonny Dore recommended me to write a cartoon special for ABC and strictly on her recommendation, without even reading a word I'd written, the producer gave me the job. That's how much people trusted her.
Bonny was a smart lady who understood the television business, a field that is rarely understandable to most in it. We went through many a war together and two reasons I made it through were her wisdom and her nearly-invulnerable sunny disposition. She knew everyone in the industry and everyone knew her and liked her. And will miss her.