Zestful, creative and committed are the attributes of the life of Diana Birkenfield of Pittsburgh, who died on Thursday morning in UPMC Mercy Hospital. A significant pioneer woman in the early days of radio and television program production, Ms. Birkenfield graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and found her first broadcasting job at WHOD Radio in Homestead, the predecessor to WAMO. She then headed for New York City where she discovered opportunity in the burgeoning growth of the new black- and-white television entertainment operations, including The Jimmy Dean Show, The Kate Smith Hour and Candid Camera, among others. She moved on to award-winning distinction as a major executive producer, working closely with Jim Henson and the Muppet television organization. She was the first woman to serve as a member of the Muppets' Board of Directors. After several decades in New York she retired and returned to devote herself to family and friends in Pittsburgh. She always proclaimed her pride in Pittsburgh's renaissance as a livable community. Ms. Birkenfield is survived by her sister, Natalie (Herbert) Weisman of Jenkintown, PA; cousins, Barbara Davis and Helen-Faye and Ray Rosenblum of Pittsburgh and their children and grandchildren; plus beloved nieces and nephews; and cherished Muppets and Fraggles around the world. Services at RALPH SCHUGAR CHAPEL, INC., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside on Sunday at 3 p.m. Visitation one hour prior to services (2-3 p.m.) Interment PRIVATE. Donations in Ms. Birkenfield's honor are encouraged to the Greater Pittsburgh's Community Food Bank, 1 North Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Nov. 23, 2012