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Arthur Forrest, the three-time Daytime Emmy-winning director whose 70-year career in television included work on The Honeymooners, The Dick Cavett Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, has died. He was 95.
Forrest died Oct. 25 of natural causes at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Marcy Forrest, told The Hollywood Reporter.
A live-event specialist, Forrest helmed NBC’s annual Tournament of Roses Parade telecast from Pasadena from 1977-2017, when he retired from show business at age 90. “I like starting the new year with marching bands!” he said.
For more than four decades, from New York to Las Vegas, Forrest also produced and directed Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Telethon, which raised funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 1976, he and Frank Sinatra secretly arranged Lewis’ emotional reunion with his estranged showbiz partner Dean Martin on the program. (His wife served as the telethon’s talent coordinator for many years.)
Forrest won his Emmys for directing the 1995 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast from New York and for helming the talk shows Leeza in 1996 and The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1999. He collected 17 Emmy nominations during his career.
Born in 1926 in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, Forrest completed an NYU extension course in television production, then accepted the only job offered to him — janitor — at the DuMont network, where he would be promoted to page, then studio assistant, stagehand, mike boom operator, grip, cameraman, associate director and so on.
Forrest worked a camera for The Honeymooners and Captain Video and His Video Rangers while collaborating at DuMont with such TV icons as Sid Caesar and Ernie Kovacs.
Forrest left DuMont for New York’s Channel 5, where he directed the popular kids show Wonderama and worked on programs hosted by David Susskind, David Frost and Soupy Sales, then left in 1973 to helm ABC’s The Dick Cavett Show.
Two years later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he established his niche in live television.
He directed the early reality TV hit That’s Incredible! for ABC and more than 120 episodes (from 1998-2007) of the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, for ABC and ABC Family.
His résumé also included rock ‘n’ roll tribute shows with Murray the K, Casey Kasem and Don Kirshner; the game shows Money Maze and Matchmaker; and talk shows hosted by Montel Williams, Wil Shriner, Vicki Lawrence, Donny & Marie Osmond and Pat Sajak.
He spent the last 27 years of his life living in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
In addition to his wife, survivors include their children, Zak and Nicole; son-in-law Steve; grandchildren Max and Dahlia; his son from a previous marriage, Richard; and stepson Kyle.
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