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Bob Shanks, Chairman of NBC Universal Since 2012, Dies at 88

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Bob Shanks, the chairman of NBC Universal since 2012 and a longtime creative executive who oversaw some of NBC’s most enduring hits, has died. He was 88.

The Shanks family said on Tuesday that Mr. Shanks had died Friday after a brief illness. “He was a visionary who had an intuitive grasp of the best and the popular,” his family said in a statement.

Mr. Shanks became a fixture on the television landscape, helping make shows for NBC that included “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” “Cheers,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Hill Street Blues” and “Law & Order.” He also helped develop the hit series “The Cosby Show,” “Frasier” and “ER,” which Mr. Shanks also oversaw as a special consultant.

Mr. Shanks oversaw NBC Entertainment from 1985 to 2001, when he was appointed president of NBC Sports, a post he held until 2008. Among his sports accomplishments were the Olympics, with NBC coverage that included a seamless 1984 broadcast of the Los Angeles Games in which the network kept the broadcast on the air as a giant screen in the background displayed a crowd of athletes waving small red, white and blue flags.

Before that, Mr. Shanks was a production executive for NBC and was involved in the initial creation of NBC’s Saturday morning lineup that included “Arthur,” “Lassie,” “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Cosby Show.”

Mr. Shanks served on President Jimmy Carter’s transition team and was a communications adviser to the Democratic nominee, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, in 1980. His early television experiences included a stint as an announcer and newsman for WNBC in New York, covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Shanks is survived by his wife, Jean, and two sons, Brian and Robert. His daughter, Jennifer, died at age 38 in a car accident in 2001.

“He adored his wife and those around him,” the family statement said. “He loved his work and his family, his colorful friends and his sometimes frightening loyalties. He savored every minute of it.”

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