In Memoriam: Saying Goodbye To My Grandfather On The Emmys

5 years ago

Tonight, the red carpet rolls out for the 64th Annual Emmy Awards. I’ll live tweet along with the team at BlogHer, as I’ve done in years past. I’ll have hopes high that certain people take home the award. And as the In Memoriam montage is introduced, I’ll raise a vodka tonic in memory of my grandfather, William Asher. Moments like this, a reminder he’s really not here any longer. Talk about reality TV.

I didn’t write about my grandfather’s death in July, even though for years now I’ve been doing research for a book about his work. As prolific as his career was as a director, writer and producer in TV’s Golden Age, a pioneer who helped shape the sitcom, that’s not what he was to me. I hadn’t lost a director. I’d lost my grandfather.

People knew him for I Love Lucy and Bewitched, Gidget and The Patty Duke Show, and so many more. (Someone asked how many hours of film and TV he helped create, and I have yet to do the math. With Lucy alone, he directed some 100 episodes.)

I knew him as a grandfather, father, husband. A man whose first three wives were actresses with whom he collaborated in work and creating a family I am so lucky to call my own. A great big family, that like he and his wives, continues to collaborate with one another on creative projects.


Elizabth Montgomery and William Asher Backstage at the Emmys, Circa 1971. Credit Image: © Phil Roach/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

Another photo is of his hands as he reads a big, red leather book. One of my last great memories is sitting with him on the sofa as we looked through it, the photos and his note-filled script from JFK’s Inaugural, which he directed (he also directed JFK's 45th birthday party with Marilyn's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President.").


Elizabeth Montgomery, William Asher, Shirley Jones. Credit Image: © Phil Roach/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

I didn’t write about my grandfather’s death in July because I wasn’t ready to let him go, knowing that to write about this life, putting it on the page, meant no new leather bound volumes. No more walking into the room to a big smile, a squeeze of the hand, a "Hi, Honey."

Each year, the In Memoriam montage honors the passing of those who made contributions to this medium, this art, this history and The Academy. For some viewers, it’s the moment to get up from the couch and grab some food before the next winner is announced. Others watch the segment remembering the people whose work shaped their lives. A time to reflect on the power of TV in our lives. Of those we grew up with, sometimes quite literally.

I look forward to tonight. To celebrating him even if that requires a Kleenex or twelve.

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