Skip to main content

Edward Bleier, Media Trailblazer

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 09:21

Oct. 16, 1929 - Oct. 17, 2023

When Eddie Bleier was a student at Syracuse University in the late 1940s, he enrolled as a radio major and joined the campus radio station. Two of his colleagues there were William Safire, who went on to become a prominent New York Times columnist, and Dick Clark, whose shot to fame began in the 1950s as the host of “American Bandstand.”

Not to be left in their dust, Mr. Bleier went on to a career in television so influential and so successful that in 2005 Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television was renamed the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture.

Mr. Bleier died at his home in East Hampton, where he and his wife had vacationed for over a half-century, on Oct. 17. He had turned 94 the day before.

After dropping out of college, along with Mr. Safire, in 1949 (he eventually earned his degree in 1994), he began his television career at Channel 5 in New York before moving to ABC. Foreseeing that cable TV would be the wave of the future, he left ABC in 1968 and joined Warner Bros., where he was president of domestic Pay-TV, cable, and network features until 2003.

Under Mr. Bleier’s watch, the company developed such basic cable networks as Nickelodeon, MTV, and the Movie Channel. He also helped link Warner Bros. with American Express and Time Inc., and in 1990, Warner Cable became Time Warner Cable.

Edward Bleier was born in New York City on Oct. 16, 1929, to Philip Bleier and the former Cecile Richter, and grew up in the Bronx and Queens. Mr. Safire, who was a lifelong friend, introduced him to Magda Palacci, a French-language journalist who became the bureau chief for Paris Match in New York City. They were married on Dec. 15, 1973. She survives.

After leaving television in 2003, Mr. Bleier published what turned out to be an unexpected best seller about his favorite holiday, “The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America’s Family Feast.” It included a brief history of the holiday, poems, hymns, songs, prayers, readings, and a ceremony designed to be read aloud at the festive table. Alan and Arlene Alda said of the book, “There are times, like these, when it’s important to count our blessings. Ed Bleier’s delightful book lets us do the math.”

A brief biography of Mr. Bleier, written by Robert Morgan, was published just last week.

Locally, Mr. Bleier was a former chairman of Guild Hall’s Academy of the Arts. He was chairman or a director of many other prominent boards as well: the Center for Communication, the International Radio and Television Society, the Keystone Center for Science and Environment, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Charles A. Dana Foundation.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sisters-in-law Rebecca Blechman and Sara Palacci; two nieces, Julie Moise and Deborah Palacci, and two nephew-godsons, Henry Chase Blechman and Philip Edward Blechman.

A service was held on Sunday at Shaarey Pardes Accabonac Grove Cemetery in Springs, Rabbi-Cantor Debra Stein officiating. No fewer than seven speakers addressed a large number of mourners on a cold gray day, every one of them touching upon Mr. Bleier’s laid-back, genial approach to his demanding work. “What a kind and gentle person he was, in an industry not known for its kindness and gentleness,” said one speaker.

The family has suggested memorial contributions to the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, newhouse.syracuse.edu/centers/bleier-center-for-television-popular-culture, or the New York Stem Cell Foundation, nyscf.org.

 

Villages

New Manager Takes Stock at Food Pantry

Noah Gualtieri may be new to the job of operations manager at the East Hampton Food Pantry, but he is hardly new to the work of the pantry.

Feb 22, 2024

East Hampton Village Board Turns Its Thoughts to the Spring

Basketball courts, the farmers market, the May Day 5K, and the Hamptons Whodunit festival were topics of interest at Friday's meeting of the East Hampton Village Board.

Feb 22, 2024

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Names New Chief Administrator

Emily Mastaler, coming from her previous role of president and chief executive officer of River Hospital in Alexandria Bay upstate, has "extensive healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise, and ability," the hospital said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Feb 22, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.