Jack Rourke, 86; Producer of Sam Yorty's TV Show

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jack Rourke, 86, a television executive best known for producing and co-hosting Sam Yorty's television show when he was mayor of Los Angeles, died Thursday at his home in Toluca Lake.

The cause of death was not announced.

Rourke, who also produced a variety of fundraising telethons in the Los Angeles market, was a native of Boston. He studied at Dartmouth College and the New England Conservatory of Music.

Rourke worked in radio in the New York and New England markets before landing a job as an announcer for bandleader Horace Heidt, which brought Rourke to Los Angeles.

After World War II, Rourke started his own business packaging radio and televisions shows as well as writing, producing and hosting them. Rourke produced and hosted the Stop Arthritis and Save Autistic Children telethons in the 1950s and '60s.

In the late '60s, he turned his telethon experience to politics, raising money for former Vice President Richard M. Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968.

Broadcast on KHJ-TV Channel 9, the Yorty show featured celebrity guests, and the mayor fielded questions from a friendly studio audience. It was billed as the first such television show by a U.S. mayor and lasted a year before it went off the air.

Rourke later criticized Yorty for seeking a third term as mayor.

The television producer ran for mayor himself unsuccessfully in 1969.

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