Friday, April 22, 2011

Hubert Schlafly, Teleprompter inventor and satellite visionary, dies at 91

Hubert Schlafly, an Emmy Award-winning engineer who helped shape modern television by inventing the Teleprompter and executing the first satellite transmission of a cable program, died Wednesday.

Schlafly, a longtime Greenwich resident who in recent years moved to the Edgehill retirement community in Stamford, was 91. He died at Stamford Hospital after a brief illness, according to close friend Thomas Gallagher of Riverside.

Schlafly is perhaps best known for developing the Teleprompter with Broadway actor Fred Barton Jr. and Irving Berlin Kahn , nephew of the famous composer and vice president of radio and television at 20th Century Fox .

Barton came up with the idea for creating a device to take the place of a live person helping actors with their lines. Kahn asked Schlafly, who served as 20th Century Fox's director of television research and a prolific inventor, to build it.

"I said it was a piece of cake," Schlafly told The Advocate of Stamford in a 2008 interview. The device -- a box with a motorized scroll printed in half-inch font, with a red arrow indicating the text to be spoken -- debuted in 1950 on a soap opera called THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS.

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