Oakland University

03/14/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/15/2019 12:34

Son of TV mogul Charles G. Mortimer Jr. shares father’s legacy at OU

The Honors College recently hosted a talk by Cardie Mortimer, son of Charles G. Mortimer Jr., the influential television producer who worked on hit shows, including The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart and Bonanza. Cardie and family recently donated the Charles G. Mortimer Jr. Film and Television Collection to OU's Honors College.

'We are extremely grateful that Mr. Mortimer's family has entrusted us with persevering this wonderful collection,' said Honors College Dean, Graeme Harper. 'It is a treasure trove of TV and movie history, and is sure to be a valuable resource for scholars, movie buffs and anyone interested in motion pictures from the past 80-plus years.'

Cardie Mortimer is pictured at age 13 on the set of 'The Muppets' with Jim Henson, the show's creator. Photo courtesy of Cardie Mortimer.

Charles Mortimer, Jr.'s career in television began in the early 1950s at CBS, where he worked on such shows as Studio One and Playhouse 90. He later moved to ABC, where he became the network's first production manager. He worked on shows such as Get Smart, The Virginian, F Troop, The Beverly Hillbillies, Rat Patrol, The Invaders, Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

Along the way, he helped to launch the careers of Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, and Robert Wagner, the Detroit-born actor who famously starred in the television series It Takes a Thief, Switch, and Hart to Hart.

Mortimer Jr. also founded his own company, Westfall Productions, and produced the motion picture From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, starring Ingrid Bergman. His other creative successes included the television movies Death Be Not Proud (1975), The Last Giraffe (1979), and the classic Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977), in collaboration with Jim Henson. He passed away in 2015, at age 88.

Danielle Parker, a freshman Cinema Studies major and Honors College member, spoke about her experience cataloguing the Charles G. Mortimer Jr. Film and Television Collection, which was recently donated to The Honors College by the Mortimer family.

His son Cardie spoke to Honors College students about his father's achievements, as well as his own career in film and television. Cardie spent nearly 30 years in the industry, acting in movies and Broadway productions, working at his father's production company, and later becoming Executive Director, Primetime Television, Sales and Finance at Disney-ABC Television Group. He noted that, despite being a mediocre student, he eventually buckled down and found his way to career success.

'I failed accounting three times in college,' he said. 'But guess what I did at ABC. I handled $4.95 billion a year for the company and became one of the top financial experts in the industry.'

From left: Cardie Mortimer, Danielle Parker, Honors College Dean Graeme Harper, and Brian Murphy, professor emeritus of English and former director of The Honors College.

Danielle Parker, a freshman Honors College student, and Cinema Studies major, discussed her recent work cataloguing the Charles G. Mortimer Jr. Film and Television Collection, which consists of 156 films, TV series, and sporting events - including original reels of the 1960 pilot of The Flintstones, the 1965 pilot of Get Smart and the 1960 pilot of Klondike. It also contains copies of the 1957, 1959 and 1961 World Series; the 1937 musical drama Heidi, starring Shirley Temple; the 1940 romance Our Town, starring William Holden; and the 1971 motorcycle classic On Any Sunday, along with many other selections. The collection is currently housed at the OU INCubator and will be digitized.

The Cardie Mortimer talk was part of the fifth annual Murphy Creative Intersections event named in honor of Dr. Brian Murphy, professor emeritus of English, who served 17 years as director of OU's Honors College.