Memorial Set for Broadcasting Pioneer

March 17, 2013


BUFFALO, NY – Canisius College will host a memorial service for the late Frederick A. Keller at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 in the Regis Room of the Richard E. Winter ’42 Student Center, located on Hughes Avenue. A reception will follow. The service is open to the public.

Frederick Keller passed away in Southern California on October 5, 2011. He was a major creative force in Western New York theater, education and film, and a pioneer in Buffalo television broadcasting.

His son, Frederick K. Keller is a director, producer and screenwriter for film and television from California. Frederick K. Keller will attend the Buffalo memorial, at which he will speak and share past film clips of his father.

Frederick A. Keller began his career as one of four employees of WBEN Radio, then owned by The Buffalo Evening News. He was assigned to visit various experimental televisions stations around the country in preparation for the start-up of Buffalo’s first TV station, WBEN, now WIVB-TV.

Shortly after the station began scheduled programming, Keller was appointed program director, a position he held until he left the company in 1962. In this role, Keller created, produced, wrote, directed and supervised telecasts as they were going out on the air. Among them was “The Clue,” the first-ever dramatic weekly series to be televised. He also produced the first educational series of programs for children in Western New York.

Keller helped bring a number of important foreign and domestic art films to Buffalo, through the Circle Art and Glen Art theaters. On the stage, he played Willy Loman in the 1960 Studio Arena production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” The following year he took the Grand Island Players’ presentation of Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” to the Festival International du Theatre in Monaco.

Keller also appeared in a number of films, making his screen debut in the 1970 George Stevens film “The Only Game in Town,” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty. In television, he portrayed the title character in a 1981 adaptation of Natalie Babbit’s award-winning novel Tuck Everlasting, directed by his son, Frederick K. Keller. He co-wrote and starred in the 1987 independent film “My Dark Lady,” starring Buffalo actress Lorna Hill.

Keller taught acting, film and theater courses at Canisius College, as well as at the University at Buffalo, Medaille College, Niagara Community College and Erie Community College.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in general education from Buffalo State College and a master’s degree in the foundations of education from the University at Buffalo.

One of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York.