Alan Armer dies at 88; TV producer won Emmy with ‘The Fugitive’
Alan A. Armer, an Emmy Award-winning television producer whose series included “The Fugitive” and “The Untouchables,” has died. He was 88.
Armer, a retired longtime professor in what now is called the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at Cal State Northridge, died of colon cancer Sunday at his home in Century City, said his son, Michael.
In a more than two-decade career that began in Los Angeles during the live TV days of the late 1940s, Armer was a producer on the 1950s series “My Friend Flicka,” “Broken Arrow” and “Man Without a Gun.”
From 1960 to ’63, he was an executive producer on “The Untouchables,” the Prohibition-era series starring Robert Stack as the crime-fighting Eliot Ness.
As the producer of “The Fugitive,” starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, who is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Armer took home an Emmy when the show won for outstanding dramatic series in 1966.
Armer produced “The Fugitive,” which was executive-produced by Quinn Martin, for the first three years of its 1963-67 run.
For Quinn Martin Productions, he went on to produce “The Invaders,” the 1967-68 science fiction series starring Roy Thinnes, and the first season of “Cannon,” the 1971-76 detective series starring William Conrad.
Armer also produced the 1968-71 western series “Lancer” and was a producer of the 1973-74 adventure series “The Magician,” as well as TV movies such as “Birds of Prey,” starring Janssen.
“I think Alan knew every aspect of producing: He knew what made a good script, he knew directing and editing, but what I remember about working with him was his patience and his kindness,” said writer and producer David Rintels, who was Armer’s story editor and associate producer on “The Invaders.”
“He wanted it the best it could be, and he would take whatever time was necessary to do it,” Rintels said. “He’d never get short-tempered about it. He was the most collegial of men.”
Armer, who began lecturing at Cal State Northridge in what was then called the Radio-Television-Film Department in the ‘70s, became a part-time faculty member in 1980.
“I guess I was suffering burnout at the time,” Armer said of his transition to teaching in a 2000 university interview. “Nearly everything I had worked on had been successful and I had won a lot of awards, but I just wasn’t happy anymore. My wife asked me why I kept doing it.”
Around that time he received a call from the chairman of the Radio-Television-Film Department asking if he wanted to teach a writing class. He later became a full professor, teaching screenwriting, directing and mass communications.
“I enjoyed every minute I spent working with those kids,” he said.
In 2000, a year after he retired as a professor, the university announced that Armer had donated $1 million to build a 120-seat screening room in Manzanita Hall. It is named for Armer and his wife, Elaine.
Born in Los Angeles on July 7, 1922, Armer served in the Army during World War II and was an announcer for Armed Forces Radio in India and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. He earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama at Stanford University in 1947 and became an announcer at a radio station in San Jose.
After returning to Los Angeles, he took a job at an advertising agency, where he got his first taste of television by writing, directing, narrating, acting in and editing TV commercials.
Teamed with Walter Grauman, he developed “Lights, Camera, Action,” a live TV talent show that aired on what was then known as KNBH Channel 4, the new NBC station in Hollywood, from 1949 to ’51.
Armer, who earned a master’s degree in theater arts at UCLA in 1982, wrote three books, including “Directing Television and Film” and “Writing the Screenplay: TV and Film.”
His wife of 53 years, Elaine, died in 2002.
In addition to his son Michael, Armer is survived by his other children, Ellen King, David and Aimee Greenholtz; six grandchildren; and two great grandsons.
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