Bill Geddie, a Creator of ‘The View,’ Is Dead at 68
Bill Geddie, whose long working relationship with the barrier-breaking television newswoman Barbara Walters began when he produced her prime-time specials on ABC, then expanded when he collaborated with her on “The View,” one of TV’s most successful daytime talk shows, died on July 20 at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 68.
His wife, Barbara (Pratt) Geddie, said the death was heart-related.
“The View” was Ms. Walters’s idea — she wanted a program on which women from different generations would discuss the issues of the day — but it was Mr. Geddie who oversaw it for 17 years, ushering the changing, sometimes unruly cast of panelists through a daily hour of hot topics, disagreements and personal revelations.
“I think he loved doing a show with all women,” Meredith Vieira, who was the moderator of “The View” for nine years from its start in 1997, said in a phone interview. “He was a strong producer who deferred to the female point of view, which was essential for a man running a women’s show.”
Joy Behar, the only original cast member still on the show, said by phone that Ms. Walters was “the queen” and Mr. Geddie “took care of everything else.”
“He was pretty easy on the set,” she added. “But he didn’t like it when we’d complain to Barbara about something. He wanted us to go to him.”
Mr. Geddie and Ms. Walters were both executive producers of the show.
In addition to Ms. Vieira, Ms. Walters and Ms. Behar, the original panel on “The View” included Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos, whom Mr. Geddie fired during the show’s second season. One of the show’s most prominent former cast members, Rosie O’Donnell, did not get along with Mr. Geddie, who Ms. Behar said took a short leave of absence because he had so much trouble dealing with her.
Today the cast is Whoopi Goldberg, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Ana Navarro, Sunny Hostin, Sara Haines and Ms. Behar.
Mr. Geddie also sometimes appeared on the show, as a “fifth or sixth banana,” Ms. Vieira said. He bantered with the panel from a seat in the audience and on occasion participated more directly — accompanying the country singer Loretta Lynn on guitar, appearing in skits, dressing up for Halloween. (One year he was Daddy Warbucks to Ms. Behar’s Little Orphan Annie.)
“I’d turn on the show and ask myself, ‘Why are they shaving Bill’s chest?’” Barbara Geddie said by phone.
Mr. Geddie recalled thinking that “The View” should take a livelier approach over the genteel one that Ms. Walters favored early on. He wanted the cast to “step out on the high wire,” he said, and, if possible, infuriate ABC’s censors.
“I wanted it to be a bitchy show,” he was quoted as saying in “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View’” (2019), by Ramin Setoodeh. “Barbara did not want it to be bitchy. I got my wish, by the way.”
William Fredrick Geddie was born on July 17, 1955, in San Antonio and grew up in Oklahoma City. His father, Ivan, was a geologist and a lawyer; his mother, Virginia (Cooper) Geddie, was a dietitian before becoming a homemaker. Her love of movies and television influenced Bill’s career direction.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977, Mr. Geddie got a job cleaning the floors at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, which led to work operating cameras, both in the studio and in the field.
Over the next decade he was a cameraman at WSB-TV in Atlanta; a cameraman and editor at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, where he won six local Emmy Awards; a producer of “PM Magazine” in San Francisco; and a producer of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” In 1988, after working on projects for the production company owned by the former “Good Morning America” host David Hartman, he was hired to produce Ms. Walters’s specials.
“I had the best job in television,” Mr. Geddie said last year on his podcast, “Take Fountain,” which he hosted with the filmmaker Thom Mount. Over nearly a decade, he produced four Walters specials annually. However, it became “a little tedious and a little repetitive,” he said.
Around that time, Ms. Walters told him about her idea for what became “The View.” They first pitched it to ABC under the title “Everybody’s a Critic.” Roone Arledge, the president of ABC News, warned that it would be a disaster for her.
“She said, ‘We won’t do anything controversial,’ and I’m thinking, ‘That’s exactly what we’re going to do,’” Mr. Geddie recalled on the podcast.
He welcomed the early lampooning of “The View” by “Saturday Night Live” because it affirmed how quickly the show had entered the popular consciousness.
Tina Fey, then one of the “S.N.L.” staff writers, told The New York Times in 1998 that when Ms. Vieira give Wesley Snipes a spontaneous lap dance on the air, she knew “The View” was ripe for parody.
Mr. Geddie remained with “The View” until 2014 amid changes, like the addition of a new executive producer, made to the show. In the years after that, he was the executive producer of “Megyn Kelly Presents,” a special on Fox in 2016; “The Preachers,” a show similar to “The View” but with four Black clergymen, that had a brief run on Fox in 2016; and the syndicated talk show “Tamron Hall,” from 2019 to 2020.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Allison and Lauren Geddie, and a brother, Morgan.
Mr. Geddie received a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003 for “The View” and a lifetime achievement award at the 2012 Daytime Emmys for creating the show with Ms. Walters, who died last year.
In his acceptance speech, he jokingly recalled seeing Ms. Walters’s image on studio monitors while he was buffing the floors at his first job in Oklahoma City.
“And I thought at that time, Someday I’m going to be a thorn in that woman’s side,” he said. “I’m going to make her absolutely sick of me. And it’s happened. Only in America.”
Richard Sandomir is an obituaries writer. He previously wrote about sports media and sports business. He is also the author of several books, including “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper and the Making of a Classic.” More about Richard Sandomir
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