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Father of Hollywood’s Wilson brothers dies; Robert Wilson was public TV innovator

In this Friday, April 30, 2004, photo, Robert A. “Bob” Wilson, the father of actors Owen, Luke and Andrew Wilson, poses for a photo at his office, in Dallas. Robert A. Wilson, also a public television station executive who introduced “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” to its first American audience, died Friday, May 5, 2017, in Dallas. He was 76. On the wall are photographs of his sons when they were young. At left is a portrait of Owen taken by photographer Richard Avedon, while at center are portraits of Luke taken by their mother, Laura Wilson. At right are portraits of the three sons: Luke, Owen and Andrew, taken by Avedon.
In this Friday, April 30, 2004, photo, Robert A. “Bob” Wilson, the father of actors Owen, Luke and Andrew Wilson, poses for a photo at his office, in Dallas. Robert A. Wilson, also a public television station executive who introduced “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” to its first American audience, died Friday, May 5, 2017, in Dallas. He was 76. On the wall are photographs of his sons when they were young. At left is a portrait of Owen taken by photographer Richard Avedon, while at center are portraits of Luke taken by their mother, Laura Wilson. At right are portraits of the three sons: Luke, Owen and Andrew, taken by Avedon. The Dallas Morning News via AP

Robert Wilson helped bring three filmmaking sons, “Monty Python” and Jim Lehrer to North Texans and to Americans in general.

He died Friday at age 76, KERA reported, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was a public television icon who made KERA in Dallas one of the innovators in small-screen, publicly funded news and entertainment.

His sons, Andrew, Owen and Luke, who all grew up in Dallas, gained renowned in the movie industry. He is also survived by his wife, Laura, an acclaimed photographer.

Lehrer, a newspaper city editor at the Dallas Times Herald, was brought to KERA by Bob Wilson to run the station’s news unit, KERA reported. Lehrer would become host of the “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS.

In a KERA documentary, Lehrer recalled those days.

If you lived in KERA’s North Texas coverage area in 1974 when the offbeat British comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” hit the U.S airwaves via KERA, you couldn’t believe what you were seeing or why you seeing it.

Wilson, who was 26 when given the reins at KERA in 1967. He was the station manager until 1975.

Former longtime Star-Telegram columnist and retired associate editor Bob Ray Sanders was brought to KERA’s “Newsroom” under Wilson in 1972.

In the KERA piece on Wilson, Sanders recalled how he expected to be chewed out when he saw Wilson headed his way after Sanders reported a story highly critical of the downtown Fort Worth business elite.

“I saw him coming toward my desk and I thought ‘oh, lord, what have I done?’ And he just came back to me and said ‘great job, Bob Ray.’ And that’s when I knew we had this bond. That we were going to be able to do some things that Dallas had not seen before, Fort Worth had not seen before, and that’s what we did.”

Laura Wilson told KERA that her husband“really sacrificed in a way his life for the creative freedom that each of us were able to experience. And that’s unusual because he himself was very creative.”

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