Bob Christiansen, Emmy-Winning 'Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman' Producer, Dies at 85

Bob Christiansen - Obit- Publicity- H 2019
Courtesy of Christiansen Family

He also worked on 'Queen of the Stardust Ballroom' and telefilms directed by Nicolas Roeg and Maya Angelou.

Bob Christiansen, an Emmy-winning producer on Cicely Tyson's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman who guided other high-profile telefilms starring Bette Davis, Alan Alda, James Caan and Alfre Woodard, has died. He was 85.

Christiansen died Dec. 4 of complications from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, family friend Joie Gould Gati told The Hollywood Reporter.

He worked in the THR sales department in the 1960s before becoming a producer.

With Rick Rosenberg at Chris/Rose Productions, Christiansen also produced telefilms that included 1972's The Glass House, based on a Truman Capote story and starring Alan Alda; 1975's Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, toplined by Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning; 1979's Stranger: The Story of a Mother and Daughter, featuring Davis and Gena Rowlands; and 1993's Heart of Darkness, starring John Malkovich and Tim Roth and directed by Nicolas Roeg.

For 1974's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Tyson became the first African-American to win a lead actress Emmy when she was honored for her astonishing performance as a woman who ages from 23 to 110 — from the 1850s to the civil rights era. The CBS telefilm raked in nine Emmys in all.

Christiansen and Rosenberg also received producing noms in 1978 for A Death in Canaan, starring Stefanie Powers and directed by Tony Richardson; in 1985 for Robert Kennedy and His Times, starring Brad Davis; and in 1988 for the Gore Vidal miniseries Lincoln, featuring Sam Waterston and Mary Tyler Moore.

The pair also produced 1980's Hide in Plain Sight, starring James Caan; 1986's As Summers Die, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Bette Davis and Scott Glenn; 1989's The Heist, featuring Pierce Brosnan and Tom Skerritt; 1998's Down in the Delta, starring Woodard and Wesley Snipes and directed by Maya Angelou; and 2008's Accidental Friendship, starring Chandra Wilson. 

Chris/Rose projects received more than 40 Emmy noms, and their 2000 telefilm The Crossing, starring Jeff Daniels, won a Peabody Award.

Born on Oct. 24, 1933, in Porterville, California, Christiansen served with the U.S. Marines before coming to Los Angeles in the '60s. Chris/Rose's first effort was the 1970 feature Adam at 6 A.M., which starred Michael Douglas and was executive produced by Steve McQueen.

Survivors include his wife, Sandy; children Mark, Julie and Tim; daughter-in-law Barbara; and grandchildren Mason and Sadie.