Dear CBS retirees,
I wanted to alert you to the passing of a CBS retiree - -
Frances Buss Buch, the first woman television director.
She worked exclusively for CBS from 1941 to 1953.
Here’s some information about her life and career:
The first woman television director, Frances Buss Buch,
died on Tuesday at the age of 92. In 2007, the Paley Center
feted her as one of the “She Made It” honorees that year and
New York Women in Film and Television held a reception honoring
her as well which she attended. It was at that time I got to
know and spend time with her.
She was a remarkable pioneer and a fascinating woman.
I’ve attached the biographical profile that the Paley Center
wrote about Frances on its “She Made It” website (with a photo
that she vetted). She was the very first woman to have a
contract as a director.
What is fascinating about her television career is that she
directed and produced programs in all genres from game shows
(where she was the first Vanna White as score keeper to the
1941 CBS Television Quiz program, to one of the first cooking
shows (Dione Lucas Cooking Show), from baseball games to dramas
with the young Nicholas Ray as her assistant director on the 1946
“Sorry, Wrong Number”) and even Mike Wallace’s first series
“Mike and Buff.”
Here is the biography we wrote about her:
Frances gave a part interview to the Academy of Television
Arts and Sciences which is online and I’ve attached the Academy’s
official timeline for her life and career.
A 2008 article about Frances in the Winston Salem Citizen-Times:
And the April 3, 1949, the NY Times profiled her as a “distaff director”
If you wish to speak to her great nephew, Mark Spencer,
he can be reached at cell: 847-287-0409.
Following is an obit that her family wrote:
Frances Buss Buch, 92, of Hendersonville, died on January 19
at Four Seasons Elizabeth House.
She was the daughter of the late Theodore Francis Buss and
Helen Shultz Buss and wife of William Henry Buch, who died in 1998.
She is survived by her sister, Mary Keating of Hilton Head Island,
SC; a niece, Frances Keating Spencer of Inverness, IL; and her
devoted friends, Kathleen and Dennis Stauffer.
Frances loved performing from an early age.
As young teens she and her sister acted and sang three times a week
on a St. Louis radio program that promoted safety to children.
Later she performed in local theater and she attended
Washington University, but left college to seek her fortune on the stage
in New York City. While taking acting classes, performing off-Broadway
and modeling she took a temporary job at CBS television as a receptionist.
Soon thereafter she was asked to be in front of the camera in a
variety of programs, which were all live and in black and white.
By 1945 CBS promoted her to become the first woman director/producer
in television. For this pioneering work the Paley Center for Media
inducted her into the “She Made It” class of 2007, which also honored
Paula Zahn, Candice Bergen, and Andrea Mitchell, to name a few.
During World War II, while directing and producing U.S. Navy
training films in Florida, she met her beloved Bill, whom she married
in 1949. After directing the first color television program in 1951
for CBS, she retired to become a fulltime homemaker. She and Bill
lived in New Jersey from 1954 until he retired.
They moved to Hendersonville in 1985.
Frances loved everything in nature, especially the birds that
came to her feeders and the plants in her garden, many of which
she could identify by their Latin names. She delivered Meals On Wheels,
volunteered as a literacy tutor, and served as secretary of the
Birding Club (Not sure if the club name is right name.
I will check with Kathleen on this).
There will be no services.
A future memorial gathering is being planned.
Please let me know if you have any questions,
Manager, Research Services
The Paley Center for Media
25 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 621-6631 (p)
(212) 621-6646 (f)
jklain at paleycenter.org