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April 04, 2012

Jim Eskilson, Producer, Professor and Dedicated Television Academy Member

After distinguished Army service in World War II, Eskilson became a television producer and, later, a college professor.

RIchard James Eskilson, a television producer who later became a college professor, died March 9, 2012, in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Eskilson, who went by the name of Jim, was born July 1, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois, where he grew up during the Great Depression. At 17, he enlisted in the United States Army and became a member of the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, 82nd division. During his service he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned multiple commendations.

Following his discharge from the military, Eskilson moved to California, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California. Returning to Santa Barbara, he worked at the local ABC affiliate television station, KEYT, where he started in the art department and quickly worked his way up to directing and producing live television. While working at the station, he met his beautiful wife, Rosalind.

To advance Eskilson's television career, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where he became a production manager and producer of such network shows Queen for a Day, Where the Action Is, The Dating Game and Let’s Make a Deal. He also helped to develop and write various other shows and was program supervisor for ABC.

In the early 1970s, Eskilson transitioned from television production to teaching broadcasting. He received a Master of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge, and became a professor of television broadcasting at Los Angeles Valley College, where he eventually became chair of that department. His dedication to his profession was not limited to the classroom. He collaborated with colleagues to develop and produce the educational series A Time to Grow, which became part of the curriculum in the Los Angeles Community College District.

In addition to teaching, Eskilson was an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, where he served on various committees. For his work with the Academy's Student Group, which he helped create, the organization honored him with a Certificate of Merit. He also collaborated with Academy colleagues on various projects, including production of the CBS Schoolbreak Special The Girl with the Crazy Brother.

After retiring in 1995, Eskilson remained active in the Television Academy and spent his free time visiting museums, attending concerts and socializing with everyone he met. Always a teacher, he took great pleasure in introducing his love of the arts to his wife, children and grandchildren. One of his greatest joys was watching his grandchildren perform in various music ensembles.

Eskilson is survived by Rosalind, his wife of nearly 54 years; his sons, Jim and Mike; his daughters-in-law, Cheryl and Laura; and his grandchildren, Catherine and Christopher. He will be remembered by all who knew him for his enthusiasm for life, positive attitude and caring nature.

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