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Pete Fatovich, a control-room mainstay at NBC who worked on The Jack Paar Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Saturday Night Live and Late Night With David Letterman, has died. He was 84.
Fatovich, an assistant director and director, died on Saturday at a hospital in Jupiter, Fla., after recently being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his daughter, Mandy Mahoney, said.
In August 1993, Fatovich accompanied David Letterman from Late Night to CBS as the associate director of the comedian’s new Late Show. He retired four months later, and the host gave him a wonderful sendoff on his final day on the job.
“Pete, you know we think the world of you,” Letterman said from his desk as Fatovich was seen from his position in the control room. “You were a friend to us when we first went to NBC back in the ’80s, and you were great fun to work with, always a pleasure and a real inspiration and a morale booster to have around.”
Like many of Letterman’s staffers behind the scenes, Fatovich also made it on the air occasionally. During the 1988 WGA strike, when the host was looking to fill airtime, Fatovich played the accordion (he also taught the instrument) on a couple of Late Night shows.
In retirement, Fatovich frequently ventured from Florida to New York City to visit with his former colleagues. Though very ill, he was able to watch Letterman’s Late Show finale on May 20, his daughter noted.
“They were so good to him, and he was grateful and adored them,” Mahoney said.
Born on July 1, 1930, and raised in Hoboken, N.J., Fatovich went with his parents in the late 1930s to their native Yugoslavia during World War II. He returned to Hoboken in 1946 and then enlisted in the U.S. Army near the end of the Korean War.
After joining NBC in 1959, Fatovich also worked on the telecast of the Orange Bowl Parade and numerous news and special events. He was a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild and a recipient of numerous local Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his son-in-law Robert and grandchildren Alex, Caitlin, Olivia, Meaghan (Mimi), Luke, Robbie and Hunter.
A mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday at St. Malachy’s – The Actors’ Chapel in New York City. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or The American Cancer Society.
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