Local resident Theodore G. (Ted) Bergmann, 93, who recorded Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945 for radio and went on to a 70-year career in television and advertising, died post-surgery at St. John’s on Feb. 24.
After distinguished service in World War II where he won a Bronze Star as an Infantry Captain covering stories for NBC’s “Army Hour” broadcast and then served on General Eisenhower’s SHAEF staff, Bergmann moved into the new medium of television in 1947. Within five years, he was named president of the DuMont network, where he was the first to televise NFL games and live boxing and introduced such charismatic figures as Jackie Gleason and Bishop Fulton Sheen. In 2002, he and co-author Ira Skutch wrote “The DuMont Television Network: What Happened,” the definitive history of the original ‘third network.’
On the 50th anniversary of the German surrender, Bergmann and his wife Beverly were invited to Reims, France. The Palisadian-Post wrote about the 1995 celebration at the museum on the site of the old War Room, to which Bergmann donated the recordings he made in 1945. On Sept. 26, 2013, Bergmann received France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor, by order of President Hollande for his services to France in
World War II.
When advertising agencies in the mid-1950s added television departments, Bergmann was asked to head the one at McCann-Erickson and then Ted Bates. He then was asked to be president and CEO of Parkson Advertising, where he was responsible for such iconic programs as “Person to Person” and “The Original Amateur Hour” and spearheaded sponsorships for corporate giants, including Coca-Cola, Colgate and Canada Dry. He next formed his own program packaging company, Charter Producers Corporation.
In 1962, the National Academy of Recording Artists (NARAS) asked Bergmann to find a way to get the Grammys on television. He created and produced “The Best on Record,” a post-awards re-creation of the winning performances to promote awareness for the industry event. The 1963 debut featured Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Steve & Edyie, as well as many other stars. Bergmann produced the Grammys on NBC annually for seven years. His other producing credits include: “The Arthur Godfrey Show,” the controversial series “Love Thy Neighbor” about a black couple in a white neighborhood (Sears and Proctor & Gamble pulled their advertising) and “A Touch of Grace” starring Shirley Booth. He capped his production career as developer and producer of “Three’s Company,” The Ropers and “Three’s a Crowd.”
Bergmann retired in 1998, but he continued to serve on the boards of many industry organizations, including the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors. He also represented television before Congressional committees and the FCC. In the private sector, he created major endowments for the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) and his prep school The Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts. He and his wife Beverly also have been significant donors to St. John’s Health Center and to SHARE. Active in his local community, Bergmann also served as a judge one year for the Mr. and Miss Palisades teen contest.
The true legacy of Ted is the love and generosity he showed to every single member of his extended family and theirs for him. In addition to his wife, Bergmann is survived by four sons and twin daughters: Douglass (and JoAnne), Donald (and Kathy), David (and Sherri), Derek (and Staci), Laura (and Jay) also of Pacific Palisades and Lisa (and Jerry.) He leaves two stepsons Alan Johnson (and Stacey) and Erik Johnson, as well as fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Services were held privately with a memorial celebration for friends and colleagues. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a gift to YMF, SHARE, St. John’s Health Center, the Governor’s Academy or Best Friends.