Childhood & Early Life
Dick Ebersol was born Duncan Ebersol, on July 28, 1947, in Torrington, Connecticut, to Mary and Charles Roberts Ebersol. His father had worked as the chairman of the ‘American Cancer Society.’
Dick finished his high-school education from Connecticut and joined ‘Yale University.’ However, at the age of 20, he dropped out of college temporarily, to work as an ‘Olympic’ researcher, along with Roone Arledge. It was the first job of its kind, but working with ‘ABC Network’ sparked a great interest in him regarding working on TV.
However, following his ‘Olympics’ stint, he resumed his bachelor’s education at ‘Yale University.’ But by the time he graduated, he had made up his mind about starting a TV career. In the early 1970s, he joined ‘NBC’ network.
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In 1974, he began working as the network’s “Director of Weekend Late Night Programming.” The popular show ‘Saturday Night Live’ was co-created and developed by Dick, alongside Lorne Michaels. The show began airing in 1975 and was an immediate success. Its format later inspired the production of many more TV shows of such kind.
The success of the show opened many ways for Dick, but he stayed with the network. By the time he was 28, he was made the “Vice President of Late Night Programming.” He was the first person to be the VC of ‘NBC’ under the age of 30.
In 1983, Dick began his own production house, ‘No Sleep Productions.’ Under the independent banner, he produced a few successful shows such as ‘Friday Night Videos’ and ‘Later with Bob Costas.’ Both the shows went on winning ‘Emmy Awards.’
However, he returned to ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1981, as its executive producer. He remained on the show until 1985. In these 5 years, the show achieved unprecedented success, which was also credited to the participation of Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal on the show.
In 1985, however, he left ‘NBC’ for a few years in order to concentrate on his own production company. He also left ‘Saturday Night Live.’ However, in 1989, he rejoined the network, this time in the ‘NBC News’ section, where he began working as a senior vice president.
He became the president of ‘NBC Sports’ in 1989. While working as the president, he also served as the executive producer of the ‘Barcelona Olympic Games’ that took place in 1992. In the late 1990s, he was promoted to the position of the chairman of ‘NBC Sports & Olympics.’
While working at ‘NBC’ as the chairman, he executed the acquisitions and renewals of many sporting events such as ‘Notre Dame Football,’ the ‘NFL,’ ‘MLB,’ and the ‘NBA.’ He did this following the formation of the joint venture ‘Baseball Network.’
In 1993, he was the key person behind the telecast of the ‘Atlanta Summer Olympics 1996’ on ‘NBC.’
In addition, he also brought the telecasting rights of the ‘2000 Summer Olympics’ and the ‘2002 Winter Olympics’ to the network. It was the first time in history that the telecasting rights for three consecutive ‘Olympic’ games were given at the same time.
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He created history in 1995-1996, when he managed to telecast the ‘Super Bowl,’ the ‘World Series,’ the ‘Summer Olympics,’ and the ‘NBA Finals’ on the same network, ‘NBC.’ Following this great feat, he was named the “Most Powerful Person in Sports” by ‘The Sporting News.’ In addition, in 1998, ‘NBC’ achieved the feat of hosting four ‘Super Bowls’ in six seasons.
He also led the network’s attempts to bring the 2004 and the 2008 ‘Summer Olympics’ and the 2006 ‘Winter Olympics’ to their channels. Winning the telecasting rights, ‘NBC’ became the first network in history to telecast five consecutive ‘Olympics.’
The streak did not end there. In 2003, Dick brought the rights of the 2010 ‘Winter Games’ and the 2012 ‘Summer Olympics’ to ‘NBC.’
In 2004, ‘NBC’ and ‘Universal’ merged, and Dick was made the chairman of ‘NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.’
Under Dick’s supervision, ‘NBC’ aired the ‘Beijing Olympic Games’ in 2008. With a record of 215 million viewers in America, this turned out to be the most-watched TV event of all time in the country.
He also brought ‘Super Bowl XLIII’ to the network, which grabbed them a viewership of 152 million viewers. It was the second-most-viewed TV program in American TV history.
In May 2011, he ended his association with ‘NBC.’ However, he had stated earlier that he would be working with the network until June 2011. Although he resigned from his official position in the network, he still serves as the senior advisor for ‘NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.’
His son, Charlie, co-founded the ‘Alliance of American Football.’ Dick served as one of the board members of the organization, but his tenure ended when Thomas Dundon purchased the league.
Family & Personal Life
Dick Ebersol got married to Susan Stafford in 1976. Susan once hosted the popular show ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ However, the marriage did not last, and the couple divorced in 1981.
The same year, Dick married actor Susan Saint James. The couple had three children together: Charlie, Willie, and Teddy.
In November 2008, Dick was traveling through a private charter jet with his sons Charlie and Teddy, when the plane crashed. Dick and Charlie survived the crash with serious injuries, while Teddy passed away in the accident, along with the captain and the flight attendant of the plane.