Sam Lovullo (Mathew Imaging / Getty)
Sam Lovullo, the TV executive who co-created and produced the long-running comedy-variety series "Hee Haw," died Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at his Encino, California, home. He was 88.
Lovullo, who was born Sept. 30, 1928, in Buffalo, New York, produced 86 episodes of "Hee Haw" as well as "Nashville Palace" and "Hee Haw Honeys."
"Hee Haw" ran for two years on CBS starting in 1969 and went into syndication for another 21 years. Lovullo served as producer for all but the last five years.
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Although "Hee Haw" was known for its "Laugh-In"-style of comedy presentation with a cornpone twist, the show was instrumental in showcasing country music stars, including Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, to a wider audience through the television medium. The show's co-hosts were the country stars Buck Owens and Roy Clark, who were always "pickin' and grinnin'" on the program.
Lovullo received the Jim Reeves Memorial Award in 1974 from the Academy of Country Music. The award, named for the country singer Jim Reeves, is given to those who make substantial contributions to the promotion of country music.
In 1996, Lovullo published a book about his Nashville, Tennessee, experiences, "Life in the Kornfield: My 25 Years at 'Hee Haw.'"
Lovullo is survived by his wife, Grace, and four children including son Torey, the former Major League Baseball player who has been named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.