John H. Mitchell, one of the first three employees of Screen Gems productions, forerunner of Columbia Pictures Television, died Tuesday of a heart attack at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 66.
Mitchell was a three-term president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Columbia's TV president from 1968 to 1977. During his tenure more than 100 television series and 50 TV movies or mini-series were produced for all the major networks. Among them were "Father Knows Best," "The Flintstones," "Bewitched," "Police Story," "Brian's Song" and "QB VII." All proved commercial successes, and many won Emmys.
Mitchell joined Screen Gems in 1952 as vice president in charge of sales and remained an executive with the company for 25 years.
Born in New York City, Mitchell grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and was a graduate of the University of Michigan.
After military duty during World War II, including seven campaigns in the South Pacific, Mitchell helped develop WVET radio and then WVET-TV in Rochester.
In 1948 he joined United Artists as director of television, where he pioneered the marketing of programs and films to the first TV stations and television networks.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, two daughters, a son and three grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Church of the Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Los Angeles Heart Institute.