Jerry Fairbanks; Oscar Winner, TV Pioneer


Jerry Fairbanks, the innovative producer who developed the three-camera system for filming television programs during the medium's "live" infancy, has died. He was 90.

Fairbanks, whose formal name was Gerald Bertram Fairbanks, died Wednesday in Santa Barbara, where he had lived in retirement since 1983.

A filmmaker before he turned to television, Fairbanks won two Academy Awards in the 1940s for film shorts titled "Who's Who in Animal Land" and "Moon Rockets."

His Hollywood-based Jerry Fairbanks Productions created industrial films and films for television.

A popular myth often credits Desi Arnaz with creating the three-camera system for his classic "I Love Lucy."

But industry insiders, who credit Arnaz and his team with refining the system, assert that Fairbanks created television's "multicam" method when he headed NBC's fledgling film department in 1947.

The multicam system, still in use today, gave birth to the syndication business and summer reruns, and helped make Los Angeles a major player in American TV production.

Fairbanks also played a key role in developing the zoom lens that revolutionized filming in television and motion pictures--hiring and financing Frank Back, who handled the technical development. NBC originally dubbed the device the Fairbanks Zoomar Lens.

But Fairbanks neglected to obtain patents for either the multicam system or the zoom lens--mistakes for which he berated himself in his 80s as "a damn fool."

He is survived by his wife, Marjorie.

Mrs. Fairbanks has asked that memorial donations be made to these Los Angeles charities: the Orphanage Guild, Daughters and Ladies of Charity, Sisters Servants of Mary and the Directors Guild of America Benevolent Fund.

Daughter Among Survivors of Jerry Fairbanks Los Angeles Times Monday June 26, 1995 Home Edition Part A Page 14 Metro Desk 2 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction; Obituary An obituary on Jerry Fairbanks, 90-year-old film and television producer, in Sunday's Times inadvertently omitted the name of his daughter from a previous marriage who also survives. She is Jeralyn Fairbanks Demott of New York City. Fairbanks, who died Wednesday in Santa Barbara, is also survived by her three children and three grandchildren.
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