CBS Loses its Longest-Serving Staffer

Jun 24, 2009  •  Post A Comment

CBS has lost one of its behind-the-scenes icons.

Anne Roberts Nelson, who spent more than 60 years at the Eye network, has passed away. Nelson was a longtime business affairs executive who worked on contracts for classic shows such as "I Love Lucy," "All In the Family" and "The Young and the Restless." She was CBS’s longest-tenured employee when she finally left the network earlier this year.

In 2005, CBS devoted an entire floor of its Television City building to Nelson.

A full obituary from CBS, including memorial plans, is after the jump.

From CBS publicity:

Devoted CBS Business Affairs executive Anne Roberts Nelson died Saturday, June 20, 2009 at her beloved Baldwin Hills home from natural causes.

The proud South Pasadena native and third generation Californian earned her B.A. in Journalism from UC Berkeley in 1944.

In 2009, with 64 years under her belt, Anne became the longest tenured employee of CBS. Her illustrious career spanned radio, the advent of television and new media. As Anne was fond of telling, her journey with CBS began as a two week temp job in 1945 that lasted until January 2009. She enjoyed many positions within CBS, ultimately serving as Vice President of Business Affairs, CBS Entertainment.

During her tenure, she negotiated landmark contracts for “I Love Lucy,” “All in the Family,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Wild Wild West,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “Perry Mason,” “The Young and the Restless” and many others. Through her business dealings Anne forged relationships with some of her closest friends and confidantes, including Robert Conrad, Stan Freberg, Gail Patrick Jackson, Norman Lear, Art Linkletter, Donna Mills, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Red Skelton and Jane Withers, to name a few.

Anne simultaneously managed to have both a fulfilling personal life and successful career. As an active member of Crenshaw Neighbors Anne spearheaded the founding of the Jim Gilliam Park. In the 1960s, she aided in the successful integration of the Baldwin Hills neighborhood. Professionally, she was a founding member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a long standing board member of the American Film Institute Associates and American Women for International Understanding. In the era of the ‘Old Boy’s Club,’ Anne was one of the first female radio engineers and one of the first female show business executives.

Nelson’s status as an entertainment industry icon was recognized first in 2003 by author Mollie Gregory in her book “Women Who Run the Show…” In 2006, the UC San Diego Rady School of Management honored Anne with the inaugural Pinnacle of Excellence Award for Business Leadership.

An entire floor at CBS’s Television City, “The Anne Nelson Mezzanine,” was dedicated in her honor in March of 2005.

Her husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson, Jr., was a popular band leader and musician of the 1930s and 40’s, as well as a respected advertising executive. He died in 1975. Together they had three children who survive Nelson: Gaye Nelson Gallavan, and twins Amy Nelson Frelinger and Harmon Oscar Nelson III.

Among her other survivors are granddaughters Skye Stolnitz, Krista and Elyse Frelinger; Harmon’s son Connor Mahoney; younger sister Jeanne Gilette; sons-in-law David Frelinger and Rick Gallavan; his son Brendan and their families.

In line with Anne’s wishes a private service was held. The family invites you to celebrate her life on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:00PM at CBS Television City, Studio 36, 7800 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles 90036. Please wear festive attire as Anne herself specifically requested that no one wear black. Bring short stories to share with the guests. All are welcome to attend.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to one of the following charities:

American Film Institute Associates – Donations may be sent to AFIA, P.O. Box 2501, Beverly Hills, CA 90213-2501.

The Heart of the Healer Foundation (THOTH), preserving indigenous traditions and protecting the Amazonian Rainforest – Donations may be sent to The Heart of the Healer, P.O. Box 1458, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113-1458 or by going online to www.heartofthehealer.org

American Retina Foundation for macular degeneration – Donations may be sent to American Retina Foundation, 6816 Southpoint Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville, FL 32216 or by going online to www.americanretina.org/donors

Please send condolences to The Anne Roberts Nelson Family, c/o Gaye Nelson, 4570 Van Nuys Blvd., #269, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403-2613 or e-mail amy@coldwellbanker.com or call 818-997-6696.


One Comment

  1. I was Ann’s driver for five years. Never a dull moment, and I have driven them all! Ann was a real, “Class Act’. Ann was the History of CBS, and did that Lady know her History. The “Influence” that woman had on Television, and Recording, could not fit in to a Book! God Bless Ann, you will be missed!

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