Here's a tug of the ear to the man who convinced comedienne Carol Burnett to answer audience questions on her long-running variety show. Bob Banner was 89 years old when he died Wednesday at the Motion Picture and Television retirement home in Woodland Hills.
The producer worked with Burnett during her days on TV’s “Garry Moore Show” in the 1950s and early '60s. Banner produced two specials for Burnett, including one with her good friend Julie Andrews, before he became executive producer of the “Carol Burnett Show” on CBS.
It was Banner’s idea to start that variety hour with Q-and-A instead of sketch comedy, monologues or musical numbers. In an Associated Press interview, Burnett admitted that the prospect terrified her – what if nobody had questions to ask?
She said Banner persuaded her that the audience needed to get to know her. The opening segment became a trademark of a show that thrived for 11 seasons.
Bob Banner got his start in television with the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” children’s program in Chicago. His producing credits also include “The Jimmy Dean Show,” “Showtime at the Apollo” and the 1988 AIDS benefit concert “That’s What Friends are For.”