Actress Turned Producer and Top Television Executive Dies at 80

Lynn Loring, who appeared as a young actress on Search for Tomorrow, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and The F.B.I. before becoming one of the highest-ranking female executives in Hollywood at the time, has died. She was 80.

Loring died Dec. 23 at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center after a series of chronic illnesses, her son, Chris Thinnes, told The Hollywood Reporter. Her family chose not to make public her death until now.

Loring also acted in a few movies, including Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961), Pressure Point (1962) and, alongside then-husband Roy Thinnes, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969).
When she was 7, Loring joined the new CBS soap opera Search for Tomorrow in September 1951 for the first of its 35 seasons. She would portray Patti Barron, daughter of Mary Stuart’s Joanne Gardner, for a decade until she graduated from the Calhoun School for Girls and entered Barnard College when she was 14.

She starred on the 1962-63 CBS/Desilu sitcom Fair Exchange, which revolved around American and English families who trade daughters for a year (Loring’s Patty Walker moves to London, while her counterpart, played by Judy Carne, comes to New York). It started out as a one-hour comedy, was canceled and then renewed as a half-hour show — all in the same season.

Loring portrayed the girl beatnik Edwina “Eddie” Kegel, a romantic interest of male beatnik Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), on two episodes of CBS’ The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in 1962 and was the daughter of Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s Inspector Lewis Erskine on the first season (1965-66) of ABC’s The F.B.I.

After leaving acting in 1975 to raise her family, Loring returned to show business four years later as a casting director on the NBC telefilm The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang and on the network’s big-budget flop, Supertrain.

She then joined Aaron Spelling Productions, first as a producer on telefilms including 1979’s The Return of Mod Squad and 1981’s The Best Little Girl in the World — a film about anorexia — then as a vice president of development and talent, motion pictures and television.

In the latter capacity, she produced Mr. Mom (1983), starring Michael Keaton. The comedy was a huge success, grossing more than $120 million on a $5.5 million budget.
Loring exited in 1985 to become a development executive at MGM-UA Television, and she came up with the idea to turn the Oscar best picture winner In the Heat of the Night into a TV series, according to Carroll O’Connor, who starred as Chief Bill Gillespie on the show.

“She said to Fred Silverman one day, ‘I think In the Heat of the Night would make a good series, I would like to see you produce it for us, and I would like you to get Carroll O’Connor to play the chief,” the actor recalled in 1999.

Loring was named president of the division — second in command to MGM/UA Television Productions chairman and CEO David Gerber — in 1989, becoming one of the highest-ranking female execs in Hollywood at the time.

“I don’t look at it as something I’ve accomplished for all womanhood,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “But in my position, I have an obligation to stand up and be counted. I’m not looking to be a spokesperson for women, but I find what I say matters, and that excites me.”
Lynn Eileen Zimring was born in Manhattan on July 14, 1943. Her father, Charles Zimring, was a New York shipyard owner, and her mother, Barbara Loring, a publicist.

She started modeling when she was 3 and was still just a kid when she starred on commercials for RCA Victor as a sort of junior Betty Furness. While working on New York-based Search for Tomorrow, she had a second gig as the daughter of the title character on the 1953-54 ABC sitcom The Jean Carroll Show.
After Search, Loring was an in-demand guest star, showing up on such shows as Wagon Train, The Eleventh Hour, Gunsmoke, The Defenders, Daniel Boone, Perry Mason, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Big Valley, Burke’s Law, The Wild Wild West, Bonanza, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mod Squad and Police Woman.

She left MGM/UA in the mid-1990s and became an independent producer.

Loring married Thinnes in 1967 and appeared with him on his ABC sci-fi series The Invaders and in a couple of telefilms before they divorced in 1984. She then wed late attorney Michael Bergman in 1988.

Survivors also include her daughter, Casey-Leigh.

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