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Judy Crichton lit her own way down a trail blazed by her father, Ben Feiner Jr. Feiner was one of the original television producers at CBS and the first to ever televise an election, helped by teenaged Judy whose tasks included preparing a blackboard with a list of states on that big night in 1944.


After leaving college Crichton eventually got her first TV job through her lifelong best friend, Betty Furness, who was later famous for opening refrigerator doors as the Westinghouse spokesperson.

Judy Crichton worked for over seventeen years on television game shows, while she had four children and was the family breadwinner. She started as a Production Assistant on I’ve Got A Secret in 1952 "doing it all" -- research, writing questions, selling tickets in Rockefeller Center, emptying the trash. Crichton observed, "Working on Ive Got a Secret was like going to college." What she really learned was how to be a producer.

Crichton repeatedly and fruitlessly pressed for work in News at the networks. In 1966, she asked for a job "at any level" and was told by her good friend NBC news documentary producer Fred Freed, "Documentaries are not for women with children."

Crichton finally got the opportunity to be the first woman producer at CBS Reports in the 1970s, when networks were under new pressure to hire and promote women. She spent the rest of her life producing, writing, and directing award-winning documentaries and news programs. She was the founding producer of American Experience at PBS and was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Clinton in 2000.

Judy Crichton: 1930 2007

Read her obituary in the New York Times and Current.org.

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