William Asher (William Milton Asher)

William Asher

William Asher was born in New York City to stage actress Lillian Bonner and producer Ephraim M. Asher (1887-1937), whose movie credits were mostly as an associate producer. His sister Betty Asher was an MGM publicist for Judy Garland. His father was Jewish, his mother Catholic. Asher’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was 10, where he often accompanied his father to the movie studio. Asher’s parents divorced when he was 11, resulting in a return to New York with his mother. He later recalled that this period was filled with turmoil, as his mother was abusive and an alcoholic. As a result of having to live in New York with his mother, he dropped out of school and served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. Asher returned to California to direct Leather Gloves (1948), a low-budget film. He eventually gravitated to television (then a new medium), and got a job writing short story “fillers” for various programs, which evolved into a series called Little Theatre. From this work, he gained a contract with Columbia Pictures to work on a musical film for Harry Cohn. Asher received an offer from CBS Studios to direct Our Miss Brooks starring Eve Arden, a television version of the popular radio show. In 1952, Desi Arnaz asked Asher to direct an episode of his series I Love Lucy; by that show’s end in 1957, Asher had directed 110 of the series’ 179 episodes, Asher later commented that even though the creators knew the show was good, they did not believe it would become an American icon. “When we did the show, we thought, ‘That’s it, we’re done with it.’ We never dreamed it would last this long. Lucille Ball, obviously, was one of TV’s true pioneers.” Asher was considered an “early wunderkind of TV-land, blazing a path in the new medium” of television. Writer and producer William Froug described Asher as a “hyphenate of a different stripe, a director-producer”, commenting that he was one of many “restless Hollywood professionals who, like nomads, drifted from job to job, always delivering competent, if not inspired work”.

In addition to Our Miss Brooks and I Love Lucy, Asher directed episodes of The Colgate Comedy Hour, Make Room for Daddy, The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series), The Patty Duke Show, Gidget, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Alice. Asher had also befriended President John F. Kennedy, and together with Frank Sinatra, planned Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural. Asher’s best known work was Bewitched, which he produced for its entire eight-year run. At that time, he was married to the show’s star Elizabeth Montgomery. They divorced soon after the series’ cancellation in 1972. Asher also directed several films, including Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, and Beach Blanket Bingo. Television historian Wheeler Dixon later suggested that the Beach Party films were not only “visions of paradise” for the audience, but also for Asher, who used them “to create a fantasy world to replace his own troubled childhood.” Asher received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in November 2003. Asher was first married to Danny Sue Nolan from 1951-1961, with whom he had two children. Asher then married Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery in 1963. They had three children and divorced in 1973 (soon after the series’ cancellation). His third marriage was to Joyce Bulifant from 1976-1993. He adopted her son John Mallory Asher. In his last years, Asher resided in Palm Desert, California with his fourth wife, Meredith Asher. Asher died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at age 90 on July 16, 2012.

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Born

  • August, 08, 1921
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Died

  • July, 16, 2012
  • USA
  • Palm Desert, California

Cause of Death

  • Alzheimer's disease

Other

  • Cremated

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