'60 Minutes' Founder Arthur Bloom Dies

Award-Winning Director Was Innovator Of Television Graphics

Arthur Bloom, the award-winning CBS News television director responsible for the distinctive on-screen look of 60 Minutes since its debut 37 years ago and who led the modernization of on-screen graphics at CBS News, died at home Saturday of cancer. He was 63 and resided in Grandview-on-Hudson, N.Y.

He was one of the last remaining original 60 Minutes founders still working for the program. Bloom also played a role in helping to train Dan Rather to succeed Walter Cronkite in the CBS News anchor chair in 1981.

Bloom spent his entire 45-year career at CBS and used his keen eye and a symphonic vision of camera work to become one of the medium's best directors of live political event coverage. His outstanding talent was recognized with the first Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction from the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in 1995. The same organization had honored him twice before, once for news direction of CBS News coverage of the 1976 Democratic and Republican conventions and, before that, in 1973 for his work on 60 Minutes.

Most of Bloom's time was devoted to 60 Minutes; he helped to create and then honed the consistent, classy look of the broadcast. Each week he worked in Studio 33 in the CBS Broadcast Center monitoring the program's studio production and directing the 60 Minutes correspondents as they taped introductions and tags for their reports. He influenced some of the broadcast's most basic elements, starting with its famous ticking stopwatch.

The first stopwatch was Bloom's own. The timepiece symbol began as part of
60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt's idea for "60 minutes of reality" and came to life when Bloom filmed his own Minerva stopwatch. The concept worked well enough to be used at the beginning of the broadcast's third edition on Oct. 22, 1968.

Soon it was shown between segments, eventually becoming the iconic logo recognized by generations. Bloom updated the logo, but only in barely noticeable ways at intervals of several years. His modernizing touches included the use of slimmer typography and the addition of subtle shading and texture to the logo's background. He oversaw the stopwatch's transition from a filmed image to a computer-generated one.

"Artie had an eye for what worked visually and what didn't – he was invaluable to me," said Hewitt. "I depended on him to make the broadcast as visually appealing as it turned out to be. He was at my side every step of the way."

Bloom also helped Hewitt execute the graphic concept for 60 Minutes as a magazine for television, deciding on a mock-up of a magazine page to put behind the correspondent to begin each of the broadcast's segments. Now also computer-generated, the magazine concept has essentially remained the same.

Bloom also directed and helped launch the program's off-shoot edition, 60 Minutes II, which was broadcast from 1999 to 2005.

"He was a dear friend who loved life and was blessed with a great eye for television," said 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, who launched 60 Minutes II with Bloom. "When he worked on something, he made it better. We all leaned heavily on him for his taste and judgment."

Every four years from 1974 to 1990, Bloom was called on to direct live political coverage, something he embraced with energy and competitiveness.

Network television political event coverage in the 1970s and '80s reached new heights in its scope and the use of new technology. It became a three-network race to cover the events in the most dynamic way, with Bloom leading the CBS News charge with demands for more cameras and better graphics. The feisty Bloom fought hard and could be very persuading. He got an extra camera for the Republican Convention in 1984 almost by force.

A fun-loving jokester (and slightly built) he jumped from a table onto the back of the 6-foot-5-inch director of technical operations, yelling, "I want that camera!"

Bloom also ushered in new and colorful ways to punctuate the coverage with engaging animation enhanced by the computer that greatly modernized CBS News graphics capabilities. Innovative animation included red, white and blue exploding firecrackers and galloping donkeys and elephants used as "bumpers," the visuals used between coverage and commercials. Bloom became so well known for these that CBS News staffers had bumper stickers made reading "Bloom's Bumpers."

Bloom's biggest talent was bringing an event to life on the small screen through the lenses of cameras by instinctively and immediately choosing the images that worked from the many camera angles on monitors in front of him. He could orchestrate the images to convey even the subtle sights and sounds of an event.

First, he would lay his "orchestra" out, positioning cameras and selecting their operators based on the individuals' talents. Once the event began, colleagues marveled at Bloom's split-second decisions on which cameras to cue, watching him deftly direct up to 17, each strategically placed by him to play a pre-ordained role. Like all live event television control rooms, CBS News' was chaotic, but as boisterous as Bloom could be, he was in control at all times. As a joke, he once stopped directing, turned his back on the monitor wall and pretended to become disinterested, drawing panicky stares from colleagues.

CBS News political events coverage directed by Bloom includes the Democratic and Republican conventions and the primaries from 1976 to 1988, the 1976 Ford-Carter and the 1984 Reagan-Mondale presidential debates, and all the election nights from 1974 to 1990. He occasionally directed coverage for special news events, such as the return of hijacked TWA Flight 847 (1985) and the Geneva Summit (1985), and "CBS News Special Report: A Celebration of Liberty" in 1986. He also directed documentaries, such as: "JFK: 1000 Days and 10 Years" (1973); "Vietnam: A War That is Finished" (1975); "CBS Reports: Energy: The Fear, The Facts, The Future" (1977); and "Nuclear Arms Debate" (1983).

Bloom saw the transformation of onscreen network reporters into highly compensated television stars beginning in the late 1970s, but never became star struck. So respected was his candor with on-air talent and his talent for television, that Bloom was asked to train rising star Dan Rather, whom he directed on 60 Minutes, to take over for Walter Cronkite in the anchor chair. Bloom coached Rather by taping him reading Cronkite's script from the night before and then critiquing the read with him.

In another special mission, he served from 1990 to 1992 as special assistant to the president for program production, working with the entire CBS News production staff to assure the quality of its broadcasts.

Bloom joined CBS in the mailroom as a messenger in 1960 at the age of 18. He moved to the News division as a clerk and soon became a member of the DGA, receiving his first directorial assignments at the age of 21. From 1962 to 1965, he served as an associate director and director at WCBS-TV, the CBS Owned station in New York. In 1966, Bloom was named an associate director for CBS News and, in 1968, was named a director/producer when he was asked to direct the launch of 60 Minutes.

Arthur Bloom was born on April 19, 1942 in Manhattan. His family soon moved to Miami Beach, Fla., where, with the exception of three years in California, he spent his childhood. He attended private schools and soon after graduation, moved to New York and joined CBS. He attended New York University at nights while working at CBS, eventually receiving a bachelor's degree.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Marla, and two children: Scott of Westport, Conn., and Jill Bloom Butterman of Grandview-on-Hudson; his brother, Richard, of Sarasota, Fla.; and four grandchildren.

"Artie's death is a painful loss for his many friends at CBS News. He had an enormous impact on this organization because of his superior talent, and his big personality. It's hard to imagine Control Room 33 without Artie barking our directions or bringing the place to full laughter."
Jeff Fager, Executive Producer

"He became a viewer, seeing what the things he designed looked like to the audience. He was brilliant. We will miss him dearly."
Don Hewitt, 60 Minutes creator

"Artie's talent and humor were the very spirit of CBS television news. He was a perennial on the sets and in the control rooms of all the most important productions. It is difficult to think of our craft without him."
Walter Cronkite, former Anchor and Managing Editor, CBS Evening News

"Artie was a dear old friend who spent decades at CBS News as a studio director who, with good humor, put up with the likes of me who is grateful for the memory of this generous man who had to put up and the fits and foibles of those of us who have fronted the show these past 37 years."
Mike Wallace, Correspondent

"Artie was there from the beginning, a whirlwind of energy, as passionate about the look of 60 Minutes as we all were about the substance. Through the decades he never became jaded, never faltered, never lost his exuberance for giving everything he touched, a special touch of class."
Morley Safer, Correspondent

"Artie Bloom was the most accomplished director of television news programs in history. The record shows he was the best. More importantly, he was a superb husband, father, and friend whose trademarks were loyalty and a sense of humor."
Dan Rather, Correspondent

"In the control room, he was probably the only person who could go toe to toe with Don Hewitt. But underneath all of that screaming, he was a real softie who would rather tell you about his new cappuccino machine."
Ed Bradley, Correspondent

"Artie was simply one of the greatest directors in the history of television news, a virtuoso in the control room who helped shape the look and sensibility of 60 Minutes. He played a huge role in the success of the show and was huge presence in the 60 Minutes family."
Steve Kroft, Correspondent

"Artie is as engrained in the 60 Minutes DNA as anyone. As our director, Artie, with his exquisite taste, created the look of the show, one we never abandoned in all our years on the air. He was a great innovator and a good friend."
Lesley Stahl, Correspondent

"I always liked going over to Studio 33 because, no matter what else was going on, Artie would make me laugh. He was brilliant, of course. He was also one of the gentlest and most generous people I have ever worked with."
Bob Simon, Correspondent

"There are not many people in any business who know how to do their job as well as Artie did. He was instrumental in making 60 Minutes look the way it looked."
Andy Rooney, Commentator