LifeNotes: ‘Hee Haw’ Producer Sam Lovullo Passes

candle lifenotes11Sam Lovullo, who produced the iconic country TV show Hee Haw for 25 years, died on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at age 88.

Hee Haw made television history by being continuously produced from 1969 to 1993. This was the longest run of any non-news program in U.S. broadcasting. Lovullo was also the show’s casting director, hiring a who’s-who of country comedians and musicians.

He was a native of New York State who attended UCLA in California as an accounting major in its school of business
administration. Lovullo’s goal was to work on Wall Street, but after graduation in 1954, he took a job in the accounting department of CBS television.

He rose through the ranks to become the financial administrator of such CBS shows as Lassie, The Judy Garland Show and the top-rated The Beverly Hillbillies. In 1967, he became the associate producer of The Jonathan Winters Show.

After that show ended in 1969, Lovullo and his Winters writers John Aylesworth and Frank Peppiatt joined forces to create Hee Haw. It ran on CBS from 1969 to 1971, then entered into an extremely successful phase as a syndicated series.

Lovullo hired established stars Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, Stringbean, George Lindsey, Roni Stoneman, Archie Campbell and cohosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens as cast members. He also brought to fame such mainly unknown personalities as Junior Samples, Gordie Tapp, Lulu Roman, Gunilla Hutton, Gailard Sartain, Misty Rowe, Cathy Baker, Don Harron, Linda Thompson, Lisa Todd, Barbi Benton, The Hager Twins and Marianne Gordon.

In addition to producing Hee Haw, Lovullo was behind the spin-off series Hee Haw Honeys. His TV credits also include The Nashville Palace and Swing Out Sweet Land.

Although a resident of California, he did all of his Hee Haw television work in Nashville. He also served on the boards of the Nashville-based Country Music Association and Gospel Music Association.

For his international contributions to country music, Sam Lovullo was given the Jim Reeves Memorial Award by the Academy of Country Music in 1974.

Sam Lovullo chronicled his show-business experiences in his 1996 memoir Life in the Kornfield: My 25 Years at Hee Haw (co-written with Marc Elliot).

According to CMT.com, he passed away at his home in Encino, California. He is the father of Arizona Diamondbacks baseball manager Torey Lovullo. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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