Brandon Tartikoff

Brandon Tartikoff


1/13/1949, Freeport, Long Island, NY



Birth Name


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Brandon Tartikoff is best known for bringing NBC to great success during his reign as NBC President in the 1980's. Even as a child, his dream was to work in television. He graduated from Yale University and held several jobs in television sales and advertising before becoming a…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Tartikoff appeared on the cover of TV Guide on October 8, 1988. He is the only network exec to be featured there in that capacity.

    • Tartikoff's grave marker includes the inscription: "The Last Great Ride -- We miss your energy, fun, brilliance and love every minute." It is at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles, CA.

    • Winner of the Television Critics Association 1991 "Career Achievement Award".

    • Episode #8.1 of Seinfeld entitled, "The Butter Shave" was dedicated in his memory.

    • Episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine entitled "Time To Stand" was dedicated in his memory.

    • Tartikoff first resisted the casting of Michael J. Fox in Family Ties, saying that he just didn't have a face you'd see on a lunch box. After Fox's spectacular success, he sent Tartikoff a lunch box with his picture on it and a note saying "Eat crow, Tartikoff!"

    • David Hasselhoff thought Tartikoff was gay when they first met. They were on a plane with Brandon a few rows ahead of Hasselhoff. He kept turning around staring at him thinking about how great he would be for the lead in Knight Rider. He couldn't get up to introduce himself because of air turbulence.

    • Tartikoff himself came up with the idea of Miami Vice. He wanted a show about cops in the style of MTV.

    • The dog on Punky Brewster was named Brandon, after Tartikoff. The lead character in the show is named after Tartikoff's childhood sweetheart.

    • Tartikoff was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2003.

    • Brandon was portrayed by John Getz in the 1996 movie, The Late Shift.

    • Brandon's widow, Lilly, took over his production company after his death, but is more well known as a leading anti-cancer activist. She has raised tens of millions of dollars in support or cancer research and has organized events with other such notables as Melanie Griffith and Katie Couric.

    • Tartikoff left his job at Paramount in 1992 to move his family to New Orleans where his daughter Calla was going through rehabilitation due to serious injuries from an automobile accident that she and Tartikoff were in.

    • NATPE(National Association of Television Programming Executives) awards the "Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award" annually to "television professionals who exhibit extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision in the process of creating television programming and in evoking the spirit of Tartikoff's generosity."

    • Tartikoff's production company was named H. Beale, after the character in the 1976 movie, Network.

    • Under Tartikoff, NBC had a stretch of 68 consecutive weeks in which they were ranked #1 in prime time ratings.

    • Brandon left NBC in 1991 at the top of his game. The network had been #1 in the ratings for six consecutive seasons.

    • When promoted to the head of programming at NBC at age 31, Brandon was the youngest person to ever hold that position at any network. When he left at age 42, he had held the position longer than anyone else ever had.

    • Brandon's autobiography was published in 1992 and is titled, The Last Great Ride.

  • Quotes

    • Tartikoff: Cancer helps you see things more clearly. The disease, I've found, can actually help you do your job, and there's a very simple reason why: There's nothing like Cancer to keep you focused on what's important.

    • Tartikoff: The car is the star. (When refusing David Hasselhoff's demand for a raise during Knight Rider.

    • Brandon: For twelve years, I had the best worst job in the world.

    • Brandon: If you have a good time making it, they'll have a good time watching it.

  • A man who shaped television as we see it today.

    Brandon Tartikoff was the greatest television executive ever. Pretty strong statement, I realize. Yet, I truly believe it. This man truly loved the medium. He says in his book that he decided he wanted to work in TV at the tender age of seven. He wanted to be Ed Sullivan. One of his first jobs was as a freelance reporter who was lucky enough to interview Fred Silverman (then CBS Programming Chief). And the dream was born. He realized he could do that, he could "Play television" as a career. Everything I have read about Tartikoff depicts him as a good man, with a true passion for his work. He was a loving and faithful family man. There are no stories of him being a jerk or cheating or backstabbing anyone. Wow - in the TV industry that's a rarity. In fact, even when fighting cancer, he didn't miss a day of work. Can you imagine loving your work that much? No wonder he was so great at what he did. NBC owes everything to him. He took over in the 80's and brought it from last place to an unbeatable first. The network only began to tumble after all his shows ended their run. Yes - it was he who signed Jerry Seinfeld! I can't think of a more appropriate role model for anyone who loves television.moreless
  • joag95 USER EDITOR

    User Score: 63