Frank Peppiatt, co-creator of Hee Haw and one of television’s top variety show producers during the 1960s and ’70s, has died. Peppiatt passed away Wednesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, after battling bladder cancer, his family tells the LA Times. He was 85. The Canadian-born Peppiatt and his writing partner and producer John Aylesworth were responsible for several memorable projects, including Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall, The Judy Garland Show, The ABC Comedy Hour and the teen dance show Hullabaloo. But their greatest success came with Hee Haw. The CBS show, developed as a country version of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, was co-hosted by Roy Clark and Buck Owens and showcased top country stars including Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Hee Haw initially was scheduled as a summer replacement in 1969 for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, but it surged to the top of the ratings and was added to the CBS prime time schedule in December. Peppiatt’s first book, When Variety Was King: Memoir Of A TV Pioneer Featuring Jackie Gleason, Sonny And Cher, Hee Haw And More is scheduled to be published in April 2013.

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