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Steven H. Scheuer, who pioneered the previewing of television programs in his newspaper columns and books and helped create the academic field of TV history, died June 1 of congestive heart failure in New York, a family spokesman said. He was 88.
When television was in its adolescence, Scheuer was one of the first to see a need for previews of programs. As an associate director on such CBS broadcasts as The Fred Waring Show, he observed that friends were often disappointed to have missed shows they didn’t know were on.
In the early 1950s, Scheuer founded “TV Key,” a daily column of advance listings and recommendations distributed by the King Features Syndicate that covered everything from live drama and soap operas to stories on news programs. At its peak, the column appeared in 300 newspapers.
As television began airing movies, Scheuer expanded “TV Key’s” capsule previews, and in 1958 he created the book Movies on TV. He updated the book through three decades and 17 editions.
Because of his background, Scheuer got access to scripts and live rehearsals. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Yale University now curates The Steven H. Scheuer Collection of Television Program Scripts, containing about 5,000 scripts from the years 1953-63.
From 1969-95, Scheuer hosted All About TV, a forum for media insiders and critics that aired on local channels in the New York area.
He summarized much of his work in 2002 in the 13-part historical series Television in America: An Autobiography, which was broadcast on public stations across the U.S.
Survivors include his wife, Alida Brill; his former wife, Nikki Scheuer; his sister Amy; his children Evan, Abigail, Marc and Eve; his daughter-in-law Julia; and his grandchildren Ella, Cecelia and Lucas. A memorial service will be announced for the fall.
His family asks that donations in his name be made to Yale.
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