Quinlan, Sterling C. 1916-2007 (Red Quinlan, Sterling Carroll Quinlan)

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Quinlan, Sterling C. 1916-2007 (Red Quinlan, Sterling Carroll Quinlan)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 23, 1916, in Maquoketa, IA; died of respiratory failure, March 11, 2007, in Chicago, IL. Television executive and author. Considered a pioneer in Chicago television, Quinlan was credited with discovering such talent as comedian Bob Newhart and director William Friedkin. He dropped out of high school in Chicago to try and make his way in radio and newspapers. Meeting with little luck at first, he spent several years riding the rails. Quinlan later regaled audiences with these adventures on a WMAQ serial called The Open Road, and in 1994 he published a collection of stories based on these experiences called Something in Between. Eventually, he returned home and worked for community newspapers in Chicago in 1930. He then moved to Gary, Indiana, where he hosted "The Boy Reporter and His Community" on radio station WIND. During the mid-1930s, he worked as a writer for the National Broadcasting Company, and then turned to acting. Quinlan acted in both Chicago and Hollywood in the late 1930s before settling down in Chicago. World War II found him enlisting in the U.S. Navy, for which he served in Brazil and in Mississippi. Afterwards, WBKB radio hired him in Chicago, and he worked his way up the ladder to general manager and, from 1953 to 1967, vice president; he was also vice president of the American Broadcasting Company from 1953 to 1964 and president of Field Communications Corporation until 1967. During this time, he became an important figure in local television, helping the careers of talk-show host Lee Phillip Bell, news anchor Frank Reynolds, and comedian Bob Newhart. William Friedkin, who went on to direct such films as The French Connection and The Exorcist, credited Quinlan with starting his career when the executive backed his efforts to make a documentary about death-row inmate Paul Crump. The first general manager of Chicago's WFLD-TV, Quinlan was president of Field Enterprises from 1965 to 1968. He spent his last career years as a communications consultant for IDC Services in Chicago, until retiring in 1989. As a writer, Quinlan published the nonfiction The Hundred Million Dollar Lunch (1974), Inside ABC: American Broadcasting Company's Rise to Power (1979) and Quinlan's Key: How You Too Can Become an Exemplary H.A. (1984), and he also penned fiction. Inspired in his early years by Russian novelists such as Tolstoy, he published the novel Jugger in 1960 and also wrote a play, The Day the Sun Caught Cold. During his later years, Quinlan, always a champion of his home town, worked hard to keep his city's film industry alive. Among his many honors, Quinlan was named Chicagoan of the Year in 1964 and Man of the Year by Facets Multimedia in 1981. He was given the Governor's Award from the Chicago Television Academy in 1981, the Vincent Wasilewski Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 1987, and the Distinguished Service award from the Off the Street Club in 1988.



Chicago Tribune, March 13, 2007, Section 2, p. 9.

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Quinlan, Sterling C. 1916-2007 (Red Quinlan, Sterling Carroll Quinlan)

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