Howard Lipstone, Veteran TV Producer and Executive, Dies at 87
He partnered with the late Alan Landsburg on such projects as 'The Ryan White Story,' the Leonard Nimoy reality series 'In Search Of …' and the sitcom 'Kate & Allie.'
Howard Lipstone, the respected television executive behind the 1987 AIDS telefilm The Ryan White Story, the Leonard Nimoy reality series In Search Of … and the sitcom Kate & Allie, has died. He was 87.
Lipstone died Monday at UCLA-Ronald Reagan Hospital of complications from a recent stroke, PMK•BNC announced.
Survivors include his sons Lewis, founder and owner of the postproduction facility Westside Media Group, and Greg, a founding partner at ICM Partners who this month was named CEO of All3Media America (CBS' Undercover Boss).
Lipstone, along with his business partner Alan Landsburg, founded Alan Landsburg Productions in 1970, and the company played a huge role in the development of early reality programming and the socially conscious made-for-TV movies and miniseries genre in the 1970s and '80s.
As president and executive in charge of production of ALP, Lipstone guided such projects as ABC's The Ryan White Story (1989), which centered on a real-life 13-year-old Indiana boy (played here by Lukas Haas) who as a hemophiliac became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and was ostracized.
The company also was behind the 1983 NBC telefilm Adam, the true story of missing child Adam Walsh, whose kidnapping and murder spurred the establishment of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Walsh was the son of John Walsh, who after the tragedy created the Fox reality crime show America’s Most Wanted in 1988. He was portrayed by Daniel J. Travanti in the telefilm.
Another well-known project from ALP was the 1981 CBS telefilm Bill, which garnered star Mickey Rooney a Golden Globe for playing a man who leaves a psychiatric hospital and ventures into the world for the first time.
In Search Of …, which put the spotlight on mysterious phenomena, was hosted by Star Trek's Nimoy and ran for six seasons in syndication starting in 1977. Other studio-based reality series from the company: ABC’s That’s Incredible! and Those Amazing Animals.
Lipstone and Landsburg’s sitcoms included NBC’s Gimme a Break!, starring Nell Carter, and CBS’ Kate and Allie, with Jane Curtin and Susan Saint James.
After ALP was acquired in 1978 by Reeves Communications Corp., Lipstone and Landsburg reformed their company in 1985 as The Landsburg Co., with Lipstone continuing as president and adding COO duties.
Lipstone was born in Chicago on April 28, 1928. His father, Louis, headed the music department at Paramount Studios for more than 20 years.
He graduated from USC with a degree in film and cinema and landed a job as assistant to the GM at KTLA-TV, then worked as film and program director at KABC and then as head of production at Ivan Tors Studios.
His specialty was in production budgeting, business affairs and operations, and he and Landsburg remained partners and close friends until Landsburg’s death in 2014.
In addition to his sons, Lipstone’s survivors include his brother Ronald; grandchildren Jillian, Emma and Jack; and partner Elaine Caplow. His wife of 57 years, Jane, died in 2013.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Hillside Memorial Park and Morturary in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in Lipstone’s memory to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.