Robert Halmi, TV producer whose projects won 136 Emmys, dies at 90


Actress Helena Bonham Carter, right, talks about her role in the NBC’s “Merlin” while Robert Halmi, executive producer, and actress Isabella Rossellini listen during a press tour Jan. 17, 1998, in Pasadena, Calif. (Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press)
August 3

Robert Halmi, who produced more than 200 television programs and miniseries, including musical specials and projects based on literary classics, died July 30 at his home in New York City. He was 90.

A spokesman, Russ Patrick, confirmed the death. The cause was not disclosed.

The Hungarian-born Mr. Halmi found success as a magazine photographer after arriving in America in 1951, shooting pictures for such publications as Life and Sports Illustrated.

But in a mid-career switch in the mid-1960s, he turned to moving pictures. His specialty was family friendly entertainment, with TV projects including “The Josephine Baker Story,” the Bette Midler-starring “Gypsy,” ‘’Merlin,” ‘’Dinotopia” and “The Lion in Winter” with Glenn Close.

Other projects included TV versions of “The Odyssey,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Gulliver’s Travels,” starring Ted Danson, and “In Cold Blood,” with Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts.


From left, actress Melissa Gilbert, producer Robert Halmi and actress Jacqueline Bisset look over a sketch to promote “Choices” on Dec. 21, 1985. Gilbert, Bissett and George C. Scott starred in the film. (Frankie Ziths /AP)

Often teaming on his films with his son, Robert Halmi Jr., Mr. Halmi claimed every production was a passion project, including the 1994 miniseries version of “Scarlett,” Alexandra Ripley’s sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” which he defended as “an eight-hour study in American history.”

Still active well into the new millennium, Mr. Halmi produced the TV miniseries “Neverland” in 2011 and a year later a new version of “Treasure Island,” starring Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood.

“Today’s producers are just money people who have X number of dollars, and with them they buy people, mostly on the phone,” Mr. Halmi told the Associated Press in 1993. “I’m somebody with pretty good taste who goes one step further. With the creative process, everything has to be nurtured. I know on every project, every day, where it stands dollars-and-cents-wise, but I also know did someone have a cold.”

His projects were honored with 136 Emmys. A Peabody Award citation hailed him as “perhaps the last of the great network television impresarios.”

Mr. Halmi recently had begun filming “Olympus,” a mythological series for the Syfy channel.

“There are two English words which I never could understand or cope with ever since I came to this country,” he told the AP. “One is ‘security.’ The other is ‘retirement.’ ”

— Associated Press

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