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Who is Charles Lisanby?

Charles Alvin Lisanby, the only production designer ever inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Science’s Hall of Fame, is an American Emmy-winning production designer who helped pioneer color television scenic design. Lisanby was inducted into the academy’s hall of fame in 2010 alongside Don Pardo, the Smothers Brothers, Bob Stewart and Gene Roddenberry.

Josh Smead and Charles Lisanby

Born on his parents’ Kentucky farm in 1924, Lisanby grew up listening to Radio City Music Hall’s radio broadcasts while he built scale models of his interpretations of the shows. As a small child he watched Philo Farnsworth demonstrate his invention — the electric television — sparking interest in the futuristic medium.

After graduating high school and serving in the Army during World War II, Lisanby attended art school even though his father wanted him to become a doctor. When he moved to New York City to work in advertising, he got his first professional commission from the Friars Club. There he met Ralph Levy, American producer and director whose credits include The Jack Benny Show, Hawaii Five-O and I Love Lucy. Lisanby’s first big break came working on the CBS production of Aaron Copland’s iconic ballet Billy the Kid . During a career that spanned a half-century, Lisanby worked as an art director and producer for ABC, CBS and NBC as well as numerous studios and corporations on game shows, made-for-television movies, mini-series and commercials.

Learn more about the curation of the collection: Curating a life