W. Russell Barry, a television executive with a storied career beginning in the early 60s, died on August 26th at the age of 84. Deadline confirmed today that the former president of 20th Century Fox Television died of cystic fibrosis at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
As The Hollywood Reporter reported in their memoriam, Barry began his career in radio. In 1961, he sold radio ads to CBS stations first in Chicago, followed by New York. He transitioned to television in 1972, the same year he moved out to Los Angeles. There, he was hired as the General Manager and Vice President for the LA-based KCBS-TV, then known as KNX Television.
Afterwards, Barry joined Fox Television in the late 1970s. As President, Barry’s main role was to manage the production and distribution of several television shows. During his time at Fox, Barry organized production over shows such as M*A*S*H, Dinah!, Trapper John, Paper Chase, That’s Hollywood, M.D., Dance Fever.
He left Fox in 1981 to become president of Playboy Enterprise’s production company and launched its first-ever broadcast network then known as the Playboy Channel. In 1986, Barry moved to Turner Program Services to act as President and later named chairman in 1995. His role at Turner was to oversee the distribution and marketing of CNN, TBS, National Geographic, and MGM programming worldwide. In 1991, Barry was responsible for the deal that allowed CNN to broadcast in airports and create the CNN Airport channel. Finally, Barry oversaw the Time Warner and Turner merger in 1995 and was a senior executive at Warner Bros. until his retirement.
Barry is survived by his wife Cynthia, their daughter Shannon, his ex-wife Phyllis and their children Craig, Sharon, and Michael, and his grandchildren Russell, Sean, Carter, Ryan, Cassius, and Taylor.