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Producer, TV Executive Robert Silberling Dies at 79

Robert Silberling - P 2013
Courtesy of Silberling family
Robert Silberling

The father of "Lemony Snicket" filmmaker Brad Silberling, he worked on the first season of "Baywatch" and served as an executive at ABC and CBS.

Robert Silberling, a veteran television executive and producer who worked on the lifeguard action series Baywatch, died Monday at his home in Los Angeles after an extended battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 79.

Survivors include his son, filmmaker Brad Silberling (Casper, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Land of the Lost), the husband of Emmy-nominated actress Amy Brenneman.

Robert Silberling served as a co-executive producer and supervising executive on the first season of Baywatch. The David Hasselhoff series ran on NBC for one season in 1989-90 before being canceled but continued on in first-run syndication and became an international sensation, lasting until 2001.

Silberling also produced such telefilms as Outback Bound (1988) starring Donna Mills, and The Face on the Milk Carton (1995) starring Kellie Martin and Sharon Lawrence, both of which aired on CBS.

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Silberling began his film career at the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, where, under the leadership of Edward R. Murrow and George Stevens Jr., he produced such acclaimed documentaries as Nine From Little Rock (1964) and John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (1965).

Moving to Los Angeles to run postproduction for Thomas-Leonard productions, Silberling went on to become an executive at ABC, where he supervised its current programming department and was in charge of the network’s “Suspense Movie” package of Saturday night telefilms. 

He then shifted to CBS, working there from 1976 to 1988 as director of comedy development, vp in charge of drama development and vp in charge of movies for television. He then segued into the producing arena.

Silberling is also survived by his wife, Joyce, and his daughter, Tracey. A public memorial has been set for 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles.