Jamie Tarses, the first woman to run a network entertainment division, died on Monday, February 1, from complications stemming from a cardiac event she suffered last fall, Deadline reported. She was 56 years old.
Tarses first got her start by overseeing production on NBC hits, such as Cheers, A Different World and more.
“Jamie’s development skills were extraordinary,” Tarses’ mentor Warren Littlefield said. “In her NBC days, surrounded by superstar executives, she stood out. She had the ability to make writers feel safe and to get the most out of them. She fought for them. Understanding writers’ wants and needs probably began by growing up in a household with her dad, who wrote and produced comedies. She perfected that understanding as she became a development exec. When she left NBC we knew she would be missed but opportunity knocked at ABC.”
But another network was interested in Tarses, and she ventured to ABC. By age 32, the executive became president of ABC Entertainment.
Later on, Tarses had a successful second career as a TV producer on shows such as Happy Endings, My Boys, Franklin & Bash and The Wilds.
“Jamie was a trailblazer in the truest sense of the word,” Karey Burke, president of Disney’s 20th Television told The Hollywood Reporter. “She shattered stereotypes and ideas about what a female executive could achieve, and paved the way for others, at a cost to herself. She was a mentor and friend, and many of us owe so much to her.”
“As an executive and producer, she was a champion for storytellers, having been raised by one of the all-time greats,” Burke added. “Her talent and contribution to our community will be sorely missed.”
Tarses is survived by her partner, Paddy Aubrey, their children, Wyatt and Sloane, her parents, Jay and Rachel Tarses, in addition to her siblings, three nieces and nephew.