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August 19, 2009

Director Kirk Browning Dies

Live Performance Master

Kirk Browning, the longtime director of the award-winning PBS series Live From Lincoln Center, died Sunday, February 10, 2008, of cardiac arrest in New York City. He was 86.

Browning, who won three Primetime Emmy Awards for directing during his career, followed a highly unusual path to the television industry.

Born in New York City on March 28, 1921, Browning briefly attended Cornell University, after which he worked as a newspaper reporter in Waco, Texas. During World War II he tried to enlist in the Army, but was rejected because of a childhood injury. Instead, he went to Europe, where he worked as an ambulance driver in England and France.

After the war, he returned to the U.S. and bought a chicken farm in Connecticut. In 1947, a customer on his egg route, Sam Chotzinoff, then the head of NBC’s Music Division, offered Browning a job.

The onetime farmer began his television career filing scores in the network’s music library. He went on to direct live telecasts of the NBC Symphony with Arturo Toscanini, and was later named telecast director of the new NBC Opera Company.

In addition to directing 185 broadcasts of Live From Lincoln Center, 10 of which won Primetime Emmys, Browning directed Frank Sinatra’s first TV show; the world premiere of the Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors; and the televised versions of the Broadway shows The Gospel at Colonus, You Can’t Take It With You, Death of a Salesman and Our Town, among many other specials.

In addition to his Emmys, Browning received two Christopher Awards, a CITA Award, and a George Foster Peabody Award.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their two sons, David and Jeremy.

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