Edwin T. Vane, Former NBC, ABC and Group W Executive, Dies at 93

Edwin T. Vane — Publicity — H 2020
Courtesy of Andy Lipschultz

He had a hand in launching such shows as 'Jeopardy!,' 'Let's Make a Deal' and 'Good Morning America' during his career.

Edwin T. Vane, a longtime television executive at NBC, ABC and Group W Productions, died June 26 in Los Angeles of natural causes, his family announced. He was 93. 

In 1965, Vane became vice president of daytime programming at ABC, where under his leadership the network introduced such programs as The Dating GameThe Newlywed GameLet's Make a DealOne Life to Live and Good Morning America and developed a Saturday morning cartoon featuring The Beatles.

Then, as ABC's vice president of primetime programming, he helped create The American Music Awards and supervised hit series including Happy DaysMarcus Welby, M.D. and Soap and such critically acclaimed projects as the 1974 telefilm The Missiles of October and the 1976 miniseries Eleanor and Franklin.

In 1979, Vane was hired as president and CEO of Group W Productions, which produced and distributed such syndicated series as The Mike Douglas ShowHour Magazine and PM Magazine. He retired in 1987.

A native of New York and graduate of Fordham University, Edwin Thomas Vane began his career as a page at NBC in 1945 before moving into advertising and promotions and then, in 1961, daytime television.

Pitched a game show by Merv Griffin, Vane "liked the premise but [said] it lacked enough 'jeopardies' — situations where the contestants were at risk of failing," Griffin wrote in his 2003 book, Merv: Making the Good Life Last.

"Not only was he right — I decided to deduct money for a wrong answer; that had never been done before — but he'd also inadvertently given me a perfect name for the show." Jeopardy! debuted in March 1964.  

A member of the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Vane also co-wrote a college textbook on TV programming that was published in 1994.

Survivors include his four sons — Richard, a producer (ArachnophobiaSnow Falling on Cedars), Christopher, a writer and producer (WingsSuddenly Susan), Timothy and Paul — six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 48 years, Claire, died in 1998.