Melva Alfonso

Written by Melva Alfonso

Modified & Updated: 09 Jul 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Brandon Tartikoff was a name synonymous with the golden age of television. As the president of NBC Entertainment from 1980 to 1991, he played a pivotal role in shaping the network’s programming and revolutionizing the television landscape. Tartikoff was celebrated for his uncanny ability to spot talent and develop hit shows that would capture the hearts of millions of viewers.

While many are familiar with the successful shows that Tartikoff championed, such as “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show,” and “Hill Street Blues,” there are numerous enigmatic facts about him that remain lesser known. From his unconventional rise in the industry to his bold decisions that defied conventional wisdom, Tartikoff’s journey is a fascinating one.

In this article, we will delve into eight intriguing facts about Brandon Tartikoff that highlight his remarkable contributions to the world of television and shed light on the enigmatic personality behind the success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Brandon Tartikoff, the youngest NBC president, revolutionized television with hit shows like “Cheers,” “Friends,” and “Seinfeld,” shaping pop culture and discovering legendary talent.
  • Known as “television’s Edison,” Brandon Tartikoff’s innovative programming choices and commitment to quality entertainment continue to influence the industry, leaving a lasting legacy.
Table of Contents

The Youngest NBC President

Brandon Tartikoff became the youngest president of NBC Entertainment in 1980 at the age of His youth and fresh approach revolutionized the television landscape.

Rescuing NBC with “Must See TV”

Tartikoff is renowned for overseeing the creation of NBC’s iconic Thursday night lineup, which came to be known as “Must See TV.” This lineup included hit shows like “Cheers,” “Friends,” and “Seinfeld,” turning NBC into a powerhouse network.

Shaping Pop Culture with “The Cosby Show”

Tartikoff took a chance on “The Cosby Show,” a sitcom centered around an affluent African-American family, which became a cultural phenomenon and helped break down racial barriers in television.

Discovering Talent

Tartikoff had an exceptional knack for spotting talent. He played a pivotal role in launching the careers of now-legendary actors and comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, and Michael J. Fox.

Television’s Edison

Known as “television’s Edison,” Tartikoff consistently pushed boundaries in programming. He believed in taking risks and introducing innovative concepts that captivated audiences.

The Man Behind “The A-Team”

Tartikoff greenlit the action-packed series “The A-Team,” which became a huge hit during the 1980s. The show followed the adventures of a group of ex-military commandos who fought injustice.

Revitalizing Late Night TV with “Late Night with David Letterman”

Tartikoff was instrumental in bringing “Late Night with David Letterman” to NBC, making it one of the most influential late-night talk shows in television history.

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Tartikoff’s impact on the television industry cannot be overstated. His innovative programming choices and commitment to quality entertainment continue to influence the industry to this day.


Brandon Tartikoff was truly an enigmatic figure in the world of entertainment. From his meteoric rise in the television industry to his incredible knack for spotting talent, Tartikoff left an indelible mark on the industry. His innovative strategies and determination to take risks set him apart from his peers and made him a trailblazer in the field.

Despite his untimely passing, Tartikoff’s legacy continues to inspire and shape the television landscape to this day. His groundbreaking approach to programming and his ability to connect with audiences on a personal level have cemented his status as a true icon. Whether it was his unwavering support for unconventional shows or his keen eye for talent, Brandon Tartikoff will always be remembered as one of the most influential figures in the world of entertainment.


1. Who is Brandon Tartikoff?

Brandon Tartikoff was a highly influential television executive and producer. He served as the president of NBC Entertainment and is credited with turning around the network’s fortunes during the 1980s by introducing groundbreaking shows like “The Cosby Show” and “Cheers.”

2. What contributions did Brandon Tartikoff make to the television industry?

Tartikoff revolutionized the television industry with his innovative programming strategies and ability to connect with audiences. He introduced a diverse range of shows that pushed boundaries and captured the public’s attention, while also developing a reputation for supporting and championing talented individuals.

3. How did Brandon Tartikoff discover talent?

Tartikoff had an uncanny ability to spot talent and recognize potential. He often relied on instinct when choosing shows and actors, and was known for taking risks on unconventional projects. This led to the success of many critically acclaimed and popular shows during his tenure.

4. What is Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy?

Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy is one of innovation and creativity. His influence can still be felt in the television industry today, with many of the groundbreaking shows he championed continuing to shape the landscape of entertainment. His ability to connect with audiences and his unwavering commitment to quality programming have solidified his status as a legendary figure in the industry.

5. How did Brandon Tartikoff change the perception of television?

Tartikoff played a key role in changing the perception of television from a medium known for lowbrow entertainment to one that could produce high-quality, thought-provoking content. By introducing shows that tackled social issues and showcased diverse characters, he helped elevate television to a level equivalent to film and theater.

Brandon Tartikoff's impact on television is undeniable, but he's not the only one who left his mark. Discover more about Mark-Paul Gosselaar's rise to fame on Saved by the Bell, the storied history of NBC, and the influential career of television executive Ben Silverman. Each of these fascinating figures has a unique story that's sure to captivate anyone interested in the inner workings of the entertainment industry.

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