Harry Marks, Renowned Broadcast Design Artist, Dies at 88

HARRY MARKS-portrait-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Nina Marks

The Emmy winner "opened up the television screen" and gave motion to words and titles for network promos and show introductions.

Harry Marks, an Emmy-winning broadcast design artist who spent three decades at ABC, NBC and CBS, died Sunday at his home in Pebble Beach, California, his daughter said. He was 88.

A pioneer in the use of emerging imaging technologies like CGI, Marks used complex cameras to create graphics that gave motion to words and titles for network promos and show introductions. He was the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Broadcast Designers Association.

"I think good type matters because type speaks to you," he once said. "Some of us are really passionate about it to a fault. It pulls you into the screen. I saw it as a way to make the world behind that little tube infinite. I think what we did was open up the television screen. … You could thread the Queen Mary through a 'P.'"

Marks hired Douglas Trumbull of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame to do network identification spots and graphics for ABC — some might recall the opening sequence for the network's Movie of the Week — and he collaborated with other luminaries like Robert Abel, Carl Rosendahl and Dale Herigstad.

Marks also created the memorable "Still the One" campaign for ABC's new 1977-78 season back when networks went all out to produce splashy promos each September for their new shows.

Marks began his career at age 15 as a typographer and publications designer at Oxford University Press. At 18, he left his native England and moved to San Francisco, where he worked with the University of California Press.

In the mid-1960s, Marks came to Los Angeles and landed a job at ABC, where his assignment was to improve the on-air graphic appearance of the network. He later did on-air graphics for NBC and CBS and worked on brand packaging for international TV networks.

Marks also created the titles for the documentaries Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Elvis on Tour — and produced the former — in the early 1970s.

He and Richard Saul Wurman created the first TED conference in 1984, bringing together people from the converging worlds of technology, entertainment and design. He retired in 2005.

Survivors include his children Nina and Ian.