Mike Gargiulo, the nine-time Emmy winner who directed some of TV's best-loved game shows for a half-century and started his illustrious broadcast career at WNBC, where his son Michael co-anchors "Today in New York," has died.
Gargiulo passed away Tuesday. He was 95 years old.
He kicked off his TV career at WNBC, working as a staff director in the early 1950s, and did most all of the local shows in New York until 1959 when NBC selected him to join the State Department project to build a television studio in Moscow and introduce color TV to the Russian people during the exchange.
It was in this studio that Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon had their famous "kitchen debate", which Gargiulo recorded and rushed back to NBC. The tapes were shared with CBS and ABC within hours and are said to have potentially helped usher along the era of modern-day, televised political debates.
For 50 years, Gargiulo directed some of TV's favorite game shows, including "Password," "The Price Is Right" and "$10,000 Pyramid." He also produced more than 30 years of variety specials for CBS, covering the Thanksgiving Day Parade, for which he earned an Emmy nomination in 1974, New Year's Eve and other events.
Gargiulo was born and raised on Coney Island and lived above his father's restaurant, where bands and variety talent appeared regularly. He had a flair for those shows, which became the vogue in the early 1960s, throughout his career.
Victor Borge hired him to direct his music and comedy special featuring the jazz version of “Peter and the Wolf.” He also returned to Russia for “The Leningrad Ice Show,” and later to Las Vegas for a second NBC special featuring the Igor
Moiseyev contemporary dance company, hosted by Orson Welles.
In 2015, The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded Gargiulo an Emmy for Lifetime Achievement. He has accrued a total of 31 nominations and nine Emmy Awards in his storied career.
Gariuglo often noted none of his accomplishments could have been completed without the support of his wife of more than half a century, Dorothy, and his children, Susan and Michael. He was especially proud of his family and three grandchildren, Ian, Olivia and Andrew.