A former Del Mar resident who helped pioneer the format for TV-magazine shows was acknowledged this year by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Lt. Col. Robert H. Anderson, who passed away Oct. 29, 2009, at the age of 91, is recognized on the In Memoriam database on the Emmys.tv website for his work as a host, producer, writer and editor in the early days of television.
Anderson began his TV career in the 1950s while living in Davis, Calif., and working as a farm adviser for the Department of Agriculture. Seeing the new medium as an effective way to distribute industry information, he produced and hosted “Farm and Home News.”
Show guests such as legislators, farmers and equipment manufacturers discussed the latest policies, developments and technologies in agriculture. In time the program grew to include weather and sports reports, cooking demonstrations and live coverage of local events.
It eventually spun off into “Sportfolio with Bob Anderson,” a half-hour sports show. Anderson also helped create the children’s show “K.C. and C.C.”
Anderson’s lifetime successes, however, extend far beyond his Hollywood achievements.
He was born in Connecticut, grew up in San Diego and graduated from the UC Davis.
His successful career as a college quarterback earned him offers from three professional football teams, but after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he instead joined the Marine Corps and served as a fighter pilot during World War II.
Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and three air medals for his heroism during the war, and his squadrons have been computer generated in the movie “Flags of Our Fathers,” the History Channel series “Dogfights” and other productions.
After the war Anderson returned to Davis, where he started his television career and continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves as a test pilot and instructor.
He also earned a law degree and eventually became a judge. With a penchant for wearing boots and a hat with his suits, Anderson became known as the cowboy judge.
He heard sales tax cases throughout California that included a ruling against TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart that was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anderson eventually returned to San Diego and settled in Del Mar in 2004. In 2007, he was honored as part of the San Diego County Fair’s Salute to Heroes.
The exhibit featured a giant display and video screen showing footage taken from cameras onboard F-4U Corsairs during the war, allowing visitors to watch Anderson dog-fighting against enemy planes. Banners with his image hung on street lamps in Solana Beach and Del Mar.
Anderson, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, married Ruth Edlefsen in 1942. She passed away in 2006. He is survived by three daughters, a brother, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
As part of his recognition by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, two of his granddaughters, North County residents Allie and Lindsey Dixon, were invited to walk the red carpet and attend this year’s Emmy Awards on Aug. 29.
“It’s wonderful that the work that he did so long ago is being recognized,” Allie Dixon said.
“He used to tell great stories about working in the early days of television.
“He would have an idea and then he would have to figure out how to make it work,” she said. “He used to say, ‘I had no idea what I was doing when I started. I just figured it out as I went along.’”
To get the weather report for “Farm and Home News,” Anderson would drive to a weather station every day on his way to the studio.
“The people working at the weather station would give him the weather data and then he would relay the forecast to the viewers,” said Dixon, who remembers her grandfather as an “ethical, hardworking person” who “laughed all the time and always had something funny to say.”
“But he was very humble about all of his achievements,” Dixon said. “He never talked about himself. Even his closest friends didn’t know all that he had accomplished.”