William T. Orr

Infobox actor
name = William T. Orr

caption =
birthname =
birthdate = 27 September 1917
birthplace = New York, New York, USA
deathdate = death date and age|2002|12|25|1917|27|9
deathplace = Los Angeles, California, USA
othername =
occupation = film and television producer
yearsactive = 1930s—1970s
spouse = Joy Page (1945—1970)
partner =
children = Gregory Orr
parents =
website =
goldenglobeawards = 1959 Television Achievement [ [http://www.hfpa.org/browse/member/30446 William Orr at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association] ]
awards = Golden Boot Award, 2002

William T. Orr (27 September 1917 - 25 December 2002) was principally a television producer, most associated with a string of western and detective programs of the 1950s-1970s.

As the first head of Warner Brothers Television department, he forged a fruitful alliance with ABC, which resulted in ABC having a number of prime time hits, such as "Maverick", "77 Sunset Strip", and "F Troop". At the height of this relationship in the early 1960s, Orr had nine programs in prime time simultaneously. [http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0002861/bio IMDB bio, written by his son.] ]

Of these, though, no program was more significant than one of his earliest, "Cheyenne". It was a groundbreaking series that was both the first hour-long western and the first series of any kind made by a major Hollywood film studio comprised entirely of content wholly exclusive to television. A curator at the Museum of Television and Radio once encapsulated Orr's importance to Warner Brothers by saying, "Television began as a step-child. But because of Orr, it became equal with film in creating revenue and jobs for the studio." [ [http://www.honoraryunsubscribe.com/william_t._orr.html The view of MoTR curator, Ron Simon.] ] One of the key reforms he made to effect this change was to move Warner's nascent television department from cramped quarters in New York City to Los Angeles studios separate from the film division. [http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Quirks/2002/12/27/people/2957/ Daily, Dennis. "TV Producer William Orr Dies". United Press International. 27 December 2002.]

His impact on the genre of western fiction was recognized with a Golden Boot Award upon the announcement of his death.

Despite broadly positive posthumous recognition for his work as a whole, Orr did receive negative press during the height of his career. "Time Magazine" characterized Orr and Jack Warner as a co-architects of unfair contracts during late-1950s pay disputes waged by Warner Brothers star television actors Clint Walker, James Garner, and Edd Byrnes. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,826002,00.html?promoid=googlep "'Unhappy People'—with Spurs". "Time Magazine". 30 November 1959.]

In 1963, Jack Webb replaced Orr as executive producer of ABC's "77 Sunset Strip" detective series. Webb completely changed the format and retained only Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., in the role of Stuart Bailey. The revision was a disaster, and the program was cancelled even prior to the end of the sixth season.

A former film actor, Orr married Jack Warner's stepdaughter, Joy Page, in 1945. The couple divorced in 1970. Their son, Gregory Orr, is a writer and producer.

External links

*imdb name|id=0002861|name=William T. Orr
* [http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Stage/2950/_Prod_WB_WmTOrr.htm Classic TV Archive listing of Orr's western and comedy series with Warner Brothers]
* [http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=%22Archive+of+American+Television+Interview+with+Roy+Huggins%22&page=1&lv=1 Roy Huggins touches on Bill Orr in Archive of American Television interview]
* [http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=%22Archive+of+American+Television+Interview+with+James+Garner%22&page=1&lv=1 James Garner touches on Bill Orr in Archive of American Television interview]


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