W. Russell Barry, a former president of 20th Century Fox Television and chairman of Turner Program Services, died Aug. 26 of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, his daughter Sharon announced. He was 84.
A Brooklyn native and 1957 graduate of Dartmouth College, Barry landed a job in 1961 selling radio ads for CBS in Chicago and then New York, then supervised network AM stations during their conversion to all-news. In 1972, he moved to Los Angeles to take a job as vp and GM for KNXT-TV.
From there he joined Fox as vp network sales and ultimately became president of 20th Century Fox Television, responsible for the production and worldwide distribution of network and syndicated programming. He oversaw such shows as M*A*S*H, Paper Chase, Trapper John, M.D., That’s Hollywood, Dance Fever and Dinah! as well as pilots and telefilms.
Barry moved to Playboy Enterprises in 1981 as president of its production company and negotiated a joint venture with Cablevision to launch the Playboy Channel. Two years later, he was named president of Taft Entertainment Television, where he produced programming including the 1985-86 TV movies The Key to Rebecca and When the Bough Breaks.
Barry became president on Turner Program Services in 1986 and then chairman in 1995. He was responsible for worldwide marketing and distribution of all TBS programming, including the MGM film and TV library; first-run productions from National Geographic and The Cousteau Society; CNN; and programs including The Lazarus Man and The Wonder Years. He also brokered the deal that put CNN into airports and hotels around the world.
Barry ended his career as a senior executive at Warner Bros. following the 1995 merger between Time Warner and Turner.
Survivors include his wife, Cynthia, and their daughter, Shannon; his ex-wife, Phyllis, and their children, Michael, Sharon and Craig, a veteran exec at Turner Sports; and grandchildren Russell, Ryan, Sean, Taylor, Carter and Cassius.
Donations can be made in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.