Executive Behind ‘Three’s Company,’ ‘Benny Hill’ and Other Hits Dead at 80

Sep 7, 2011  •  Post A Comment

An executive who was behind a number of hit television shows has died at 80, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Donald Taffner Sr., who adapted a British format to create "Three’s Company" and brought "The Benny Hill Show" to U.S. viewers, died of what his daughter, Karen Butler, described as a “cataclysmic heart event, like an aneurysm or clot,” the story reports.

Taffner approached Thames Television executives about his plan to adapt "Man About the House" as a U.S. show, which became "Three’s Company," the story says.

“I find the properties, put them together, help get it started, let the creative elements work on the properties, and when they were finished with it, sell the properties so that we get the maximum out of all of it. But I leave the creative people, more or less, to do it themselves," Taffner said in a 2008 interview at the Archive of American Television.

ABC bought Taffner’s pitch for "Three’s Company," which became a show starring John Ritter as a man rooming with two women that lasted for eight seasons and spawned two spinoffs, the story says.

Taffner used the same formula for "Too Close for Comfort," a show that ran on ABC from 1980 to 1987 and starred Ted Knight and Nancy Dussault, the story says.

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