Lillian Gallo, Pioneering TV Producer, Dies at 84

Focusing on personal stories about women, she partnered with screenwriter Fay Kanin in the 1970s.

Lillian Gallo, who in the 1970s formed one of the first female producing teams in Hollywood, died June 6 of Alzheimer's disease at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement home in Woodland Hills. She was 84.

Gallo produced the 1974 TV film The Stranger Who Looks Like Me, starring Meredith Baxter as an adult adoptee searching for her biological parents, and Hustling, a 1975 telefilm that featured Jill Clayburgh in an Emmy-nominated role as a prostitute.

Gallo partnered with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Fay Kanin (Teacher’s Pet) to establish their pioneering producing tandem in 1978. However, they made just one film together, TV’s Fun and Games (1980), which starred Valerie Harper.

Gallo’s last credit was as an executive producer on the telefilm I Know What You Did (1980), starring Rosanna Arquette as a lawyer who specializes in defending suspected rapists and is assaulted in her home.

“Though they enjoyed working together, they were really bucking the times,” author Mollie Gregory, who has documented the emergence of female producers in Hollywood, told the Los Angeles Times. “Lillian told me that people found it shocking to be on the set with two women producers."

A native of Springfield, Mass., Gallo spent four years in the Marines, becoming a captain and serving at the Pentagon. In the late 1950s, she came to Hollywood to work on The Frank Sinatra Show and met producer William Self, who mentored her at 20th Century Fox Television, where she worked on such series as Peyton Place and Batman.

Later, as director of movies of the weekend for ABC, Gallo supervised more than two dozen telefilms, including Steven Spielberg‘s Duel (1971).

Gallo was married for 42 years actor-producer Lew Gallo. He died in 2000. Survivors include their daughter Mary Ann, son Tom and two grandchildren.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.