Pioneering Ad, TV Exec Werner Michel Dies at 100

Involved in Programs From Early Soaps to 'Dana Carvey Show'

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NEW YORK ( -- Werner Michel, an advertising and TV executive present during the formation of some of the small screen's earliest programs, died on Aug. 27 in New York. He was 100.

Mr. Michel, who was awarded the Advertising Age Media Maven Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, got his professional start with CBS in 1940.

A native of the Alsace region of France, Mr. Michel spent most of his youth in Vienna learning to be a musicologist. His family fled as Hitler began to assert Germany's power over the region, and they arrived in the U.S. in 1938.

CBS hired Mr. Michel two years later to listen to news programs on a shortwave radio and translate newsy information into English. As a result, he began creating shows for radio. Because of his language skills, he was recruited by the Voice of America, where he wound up as director of the VOA broadcast bureau during World War II, working with legendary broadcasters from Edward R. Murrow on down.

Mr. Michel left CBS in 1951 to work at Kenyon & Eckhardt, where he produced "Ford Theater," a 90-minute TV show that lasted two years.

After his stint at Kenyon & Eckhardt, he moved to the fledgling DuMont Network to oversee programming. When that venture failed, he moved to help Procter & Gamble create a new soap opera. P&G had told one of its agencies, Benton & Bowles, to take the radio show "Perry Mason" and make it into a TV soap, Mr. Michel recalled in the 1997 Ad Age piece, but TV rights had already been sold to CBS. So, he recounted, "We holed up in a hotel room and created 'The Edge of Night' in four weeks."

He had other stints at agencies and in TV, even moving to the West Coast to help develop later programs such as "ChiPs" and "Fame."

Mr. Michel also worked at BJK&E Media in New York, where he had the odd distinction of helping PepsiCo's restaurant division -- now known as Yum Brands -- sponsor the fledgling "Dana Carvey Show," a short-lived and edgy effort that launched on ABC in 1996. The program was originally supposed to give a "title sponsor" billing each week, but Mr. Carvey poked fun at Taco Bell the first week, causing controversy.

Mr. Michel retired from the business in 1998 after working as senior partner-programs and broadcast affairs at TN Media, New York, capping a 58-year career.

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