Paul Alter is a veteran TV game-show director and producer who died of natural causes at the age 89. This television legend and Emmy-winning director will stay remembered for his enormous contributions for the development of game shows. For around 40 years he was married to Shirley Burrows Alter, while Lorraine Cole Alter became his second wife. He had three daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. After finally departing from The Price Is Right in 2000, Alter retired and went back to producing music. At the late age of 87 he composed the music and lyrics for the holiday album “The True Spirit of Christmas,” recorded by Pat Boone.
Starting from 1986, all the way to 2000, Paul Alter directed both versions for the hit show “The Price Is Right”, one of the longest-running network series in United States television history, with more than 8,000 episodes aired. In addition to this, this iconic figure also directed the original version of Family Feud which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1985. After the show was revived in 1988, he continued to direct it. In 1990 he left the show and moved on to his next project, directing “To Tell the Truth”. During his long and fruitful career, Alter has won two Daytime Emmys, one for “Family Feud” in 1982, and the other for “The Price Is Right” in 1996. Overall he has been nominated for 14 Daytime Emmys.
Work outside TV
Apart from being known as a television director, he also gained a lot of attention with his 1992 lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co, claiming 17 areas of similarities between Disney’s movie “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” and his long ago written treatment. He listed several similarities between his work which he had submitted to Disney in the late 1970s, and their movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids released in 1992. In the trial which was held in 1993 the jury sided with Alter, and awarded him $300,000 as damages. With a career that spanned five decades, this television director and producer got to work on more than 60 game shows and other productions. He also did some work which wasn’t connected at all with game shows. For example he edited and scripted episodes of the 1950s crime drama “Man Against Crime,” served as an editor to his good friend, director Sidney Lumet on the TV series “Danger”, and was in charge for some episodes of “The Perry Como Show.” He also produced Simon Gray’s Broadway show “A Wise Child” in 1972.
Working With Goodson
“Beat the Clock” in 1950 was his first job as a director of a game show, and soon after that he began his long- lasting association with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Under the wing of this production he worked on various shows including What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. In fact, in the period from 1956 to 2000, he helped Goodson-Todman create over 60 game shows. Paul Alter directed almost all of the company’s shows pilots, even when other directors took credit for his work on the series.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Alter was born on March 11, 1922. Before starting his television career, he studied piano with Teddy Wilson, from the Benny Goodman Quartet. In 1969 he composed the theme music for To Tell the Truth. After retiring from television, he once again returned to his musical background, and composed the music and lyrics for the holiday album “The True Spirit of Christmas”, recorded by Pat Boone. He died from natural causes on June 11, 2011.