Barbara Schultz, 92, Dies; Produced Serious Drama in a Sitcom Era
She leaves no immediate survivors.
Ms. Schultz started out wanting to be an actress and landed roles in several productions at Barnard. She even made it to Broadway, with a bit part in the 1952 production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms.”
But she felt she wasn’t cut out for acting and sought work behind the scenes. She became a story editor for the anthology series “Armstrong Circle Theater,” a vestige of the golden age, and for weekly series like “The Defenders,” a father-and-son courtroom drama starring E. G. Marshall, and “The Trials of O’Brien,” starring Peter Falk as a literary-minded detective.
Recruited to be executive story editor for “CBS Playhouse,” she was soon named executive producer. When “Playhouse” ended, she produced “You Are There,” an early 1970s reboot of an educational program that originally aired in the 1950s, hosted in each iteration by Walter Cronkite. She then became director of program development for CBS.
She also produced the “CBS Children’s Hour.” Its best-known production was “J. T.,” Jane Wagner’s Peabody Award-winning 1969 tale of a young black boy and a stray cat.
It was Ms. Schultz’s reputation for smart storytelling, her steely single-mindedness and her ability to spot talent that made her so sought after, Sandra Schulberg, the story editor for “Visions” and a longtime friend, said in a telephone interview.
After PBS scrapped “Visions,” Ms. Schultz turned briefly to directing, including episodes of sitcoms like “Family Ties” and “Diff’rent Strokes.” But, Ms. Schulberg said, “the industry was not very receptive to a woman director of her age.”
In a look back at Ms. Schultz’s work in 2017 at the Billy Wilder Theater at U.C.L.A, Mark Quigley of the U.C.L.A. Film and Television Archive said her career, especially her work on “Visions,” “stands today as a testament to both her immense talent and the glorious, sadly mostly untapped possibilities of the medium.”