Stanley Robertson was the first black president for NBC and any major network in the country. Robertson, who was also a former associate editor for Ebony magazine, passed away Nov. 16th in his Bel-Air, California home. He was called Hollywood’s only black production executive by the L.A. Times in the 1980s.
Robertson was born in Los Angeles in November 1925. He was born partially blind. He studied at the California School for the Blind before taking up journalism at L.A. City College. By the time he was 20 years old, Robertson had undergone 14 eye surgeries and was never cleared to drive. Despite his handicap, Robertson earned a degree from USC and worked as managing editor for the black-owned Los Angeles Sentinel. Hoping to learn telecommunications, he worked as a page for NBC.
After a stint of working for NBC’s music rights department, Robertson was promoted to NBC's manager of film program operations in 1965. All of this was happening during the civil rights movement. With his success came more colorful programming. Robertson was responsible for "Star Trek," "The Name of the Game" and "The Bill Cosby Show."
As a close friend of Cosby's, the two would face racial challenges and discrimination in the network offices. They were often ignored in the boardrooms by white executives. Remarkably, Robertson was promoted as NBC's first black vice president of motion pictures for television in 1971.
By 1976, he had left NBC and went to Universal where he developed "Harris and Company," the first weekly dramatic series about a black family, starring a blue-collar widower with five children. From there, he started his own film distribution company, where he served as executive producer for the movies “Ghost Dad” and “Men of Honor” with Cosby.