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May 08, 2012

Bob Stewart, Iconic Game Show Producer of Price Is Right, Password, Pyramid and More

Stewart one of the great game show producers of all time, was also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Bob Stewart, a television producer who created some of the most popular game shows in the genre, including To Tell the Truth, The $10,000 Pyramid and The Price Is Right, died May 4, 2012, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 91. According to news reports, Stewart died of natural causes. Stewart, who got his start in radio, made the transition to television in the medium’s early years, and helped to shape much of its core game show programming. His first break came in 1956, when game-show host Monty Hall arranged a meeting between Stewart and producer Mark Goodson of Goodson-Todman Productions, which dominated the game-show genre.

 When Goodson turned down Stewart’s first idea, Stewart pitched another, The Auctioneer, which involved guessing the cost of consumer products.

 Goodson loved the idea, which became the iconic game show The Price Is Right. 

Later, Stewart helped create Password for Goodson-Todman.

 

In 1964, Stewart formed his own production company and had his greatest success with The $10,000 Pyramid. It first appeared in 1973 and over time was packaged in increasing dollar amounts that culminated with The $100,000 Pyramid. Through his company, Stewart created 15 shows before retiring in 1991. They included Three on a Match, Jackpot, Winning Streak and The Love Experts.

 Among his many professional accolades, Stewart earned 16 Daytime Emmy nominations and won nine. 

The son of Russian immigrants, he was born Isidore Steinberg on August 27, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Air Force. In 1946, after his discharge, he enrolled in a radio-writing course through the G.I. Bill. Within a matter of weeks, the instructor hired him to work at a New York City radio station.

 In the early 1940s, he married his high school sweetheart, Sara. She died at 67 in 1990.

 Survivors include three sons, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 Stewart had the distinction of being interviewed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s Archive of American Television. During the three-hour interview, conducted by Fred Wostbrock on September 11, 1998, Stewart spoke about his transition from radio to television, and his first television show, Songs for Sale. In 1955, Stewart began his association with producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman (Goodson-Todman). He talked about creating the game shows To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right and Password. He also discussed the quiz show scandals and its impact on future game shows. Stewart continued his success with his show The $10,000 Pyramid, which was later re-titled The $100,000 Pyramid. In addition, he discussed the importance of game show host selection, the qualities of a perfect contestant, and the key to creating a fun and successful game show. The entire seven-part interview is available online here. In addition, Stewart was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2010. Upon his induction to the Television Academy Hall of Fame, writer Kathleen O’Steen wrote the a lengthy tribute for the Hall of Fame program book, which is available here.

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