Prolific television director William Asher, who directed 100 episodes of I Love Lucy, died Monday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in a private home-care facility in Palm Desert, California. He was 90. Asher’s very first episode of I Love Lucy was the now-classic one in which Lucy and Ethel were put to work on a conveyer belt in a chocolate factory. Perhaps you’ve seen it. Asher, who got his job on that show when Eve Arden, whose sitcom Our Miss Brooks he was directing in the studio next door, recommended him when Lucy was in need of a director. He ended up directing both shows. His other TV credits include The Danny Thomas Show, Gidget, The Paul Lynde Show, Alice, The Bad News Bears, and The Patty Duke Show. Asher also directed many of those beach blanket movies of the 1960s with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, including Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, and Muscle Beach Party. “Basically, my character, Frankie, was really Bill Asher,” Avalon said yesterday. “He was truly a surfer – he lived on the beach in Malibu, and he surfed every day. He handpicked all the surfers that were in our pictures. He was just a free spirit and a lot of fun.” In 1966, Asher won an Emmy for outstanding directorial achievement in comedy for Bewitched, which starred Elizabeth Montgomery, his wife at the time. So he was kinda blessed all around.
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