Pioneering reality TV producer Mary-Ellis Bunim dead at 57
By Reality TV World staff, 01/30/2004
Mary-Ellis Bunim, the pioneering Bunim-Murray Productions co-founder and co-creator of numerous reality TV hits, including MTV's The Real World, has died. Bunim, 57, died in Burbank, California on Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer, her publicist said.
After establishing a successful television career working as a producer for such daytime soap operas as Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, Santa Barbara, and Loving, in 1987 Bunim teamed with Jonathan Murray, whose background was in television news, to found Bunim-Murray Productions. Together they soon gave birth to the contemporary reality genre with the launch of MTV's The Real World.
Among the numerous other reality programs that Bunim co-created over the years were Road Rules, Love Cruise, Making the Band, The Real World / Road Rules Challenge, the reality feature film The Real Cancun, the real-life daily syndicated Starting Over, and most recently Fox's smash hit The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.
"Mary-Ellis was a one-in-a-million partner and friend, and I will always treasure our incredible years of collaboration," Murray said in a statement released Friday. "Even as the family at Bunim-Murray Productions mourns her loss, we will honor her memory by remaining committed to her ideals of creativity, adventure, and excellence, both on the screen and in our lives."
Bunim is survived by her daughter, Juliana.
A memorial service will be held at 1 PM February 7 at the Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be sent to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, 1101 17th St. NW, Suite 1300, Washington DC 20036.