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Robert Trachinger dies at 86; longtime ABC executive, UCLA professor

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Robert Trachinger, a longtime ABC television executive and professor at UCLA's school of theater, film and television, has died. He was 86.

Trachinger died Sept. 19 of heart failure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, his family said.

He retired from ABC in 1985 as a vice president after a wide-ranging career with the network and its affiliate in Los Angeles, KABC. His titles included vice president and general manager of broadcast operations and engineering on the West Coast.

Trachinger was born Nov. 26, 1923, in New York. He started a 35-year career with ABC in 1950 after working for a TV station in Milwaukee. He taught at UCLA for 30 years, starting in 1968. In 1998 he became a professor emeritus.

In a 1976 interview with Playboy magazine, ABC broadcasting pioneer Roone Arledge discussed Trachinger's influence at the network as a technological innovator.

Arledge recounted a 1960 conversation with Trachinger at an L.A. restaurant after visiting the Coliseum to prepare for a college football game.

"I asked him if it would be possible to replay something in slow motion so you could tell if a guy was safe or out or stepped out of bounds and Trach immediately began sketching on the napkins," Arledge said. "We talked and sketched and drank beer that whole afternoon and when we were finished, we had the plans for the first instant-replay device."

Arledge said Trachinger was "just an extremely creative guy" whose contributions at ABC included the development of electronic hand-held and underwater cameras.

Trachinger is survived by his wife, Helga, daughter Mia, son Set and a granddaughter.

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