Industry Vet Lee Orgel Passes Away at 78

Lee Orgel, a veteran of Broadway, TV and film industry passed away at his home May 12 at the age of 78. His career spanned 60 years beginning as the stage manager for MGM’s live presentations at the Capitol Theater in New York, after which he became one of the pioneers of television while continuing to produce on Broadway, and for the past 15 years he was a senior executive at Crest National in Hollywood.

Lee produced and wrote numerous projects for television. His producer credits include the first animated commercials, one of the first children’s shows, Cartoon Teletales, as well as one of the earliest daytime game shows, Picture Please. He then formed his own production company, Jomar Productions, where he developed and produced numerous shows including The New Adventures of the Three Stooges, and Abbott and Costello cartoon series.

As producer and creative head of UPA pictures, he produced the animated primetime network special, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, which won the Radio-TV critics award as the best show of the year, as well as Gay Purree starring Judy Garland. Television writing credits include Mr. Roberts as well as Batman, including the episode "The Purr-fect Crime" which was selected by TV Guide as one of the "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time." On Broadway, he produced George Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell, starring Ricardo Montalban and Agnes Moorhead.

He played a key role at Crest National’s film and video facilities as a mentor to numerous up and coming filmmakers as well as the point person for the large-format telecine, which was an industry first. "Lee has been an integral part of our organization as well as the industry at large," said Ron Stein, Crest National’s president. "He will be sorely missed."

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Leatrice, daughter Jo Ann Orgel, son Mark Orgel, M.D., and grandchildren Matthew and Alicia Orgel. Services were held on Sunday, May 16, at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Burbank CA.