R. Dianne Bartlow, writer, producer, director, author and educator, passed away on Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. She was 67.
After graduating from Berkeley High in 1973, Dianne received a double Bachelor of the Arts in Radio/Television and Film and Journalism from California State University, Long Beach in 1977; a Masters of the Arts in Speech Communication from California State University, Long Beach in 1980; and her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego, in 2000.
Her career in television began in 1979 at KCBS. She worked her way up to producer-director-writer and received the first of many Emmy nominations for the 1985 KCBS special “Capitol Records: The Inside Track,” featuring rare interviews and archival footage of many luminaries.
She remained with KCBS, producing and supervising lifestyle, entertainment, travel, and public affairs programming for the station including long-running 2 ON THE TOWN, a series that took her exotic locales in Singapore, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, Yosemite, Africa and beyond. She garnered another Emmy nod for producing the 2 On the Town TV promotional special “Singapore—Festival Isle” in 1987. She received nods soon after from the TV Academy and N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards for the KCBS Television Station Special, “Meeting the Challenge: Inside Black Hollywood,” which featured a wide array of African-American filmmakers, from Tim Reid, to Brock Peters, to Spike Lee, among others. She produced many segments for CBS including topics that ranged from interviews with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle to specials on Black art, women pilots, and mental health.
She continued freelancing for CBS/KCBS Television, Lifetime, Entertainment Tonight, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her documentary, Wings Over Jordan, We Remember, chronicles the historical significance of the African American singing group Wings of Jordan, the first gospel singers to become Ambassadors of Goodwill for the United States, raising the morale of the men and women fighting during World War II, is archived in the Peabody Awards Collection at University of Georgia.
An active member of the Directors Guild of America, Dianne directed interviews for the Directors Guild of America Tribute to Jay Roth, produced the “1936 Package” for the 68th Annual DGA Awards, and served on the DGA Women’s Steering committee and the African American Steering Committee. DGA Women’s Steering Committee co-productions with local stations were especially meaningful for Dianne as it allowed her to produce, direct, write and collaborate with fellow women DGA members. The first of these collaborations, LA Cityview 35’s “Pioneer Women” Program, executive produced by Actress Marsha Mason, garnered a 1993 Emmy, as did A Community of Caring Meals on Wheels in 1997. Making LA Happen also won Telly and Cindy Awards in 2019. Dianne took home her third Emmy for writing and directing Bread and Roses Café (2014) for the Santa MonicaCares series.
Dr. Dianne Bartlow received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and was a much beloved professor at California State University Northridge (CSUN), where she was Chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at California State University Northridge. Her scholarship took aim at the major concerns facing women in contemporary society. Her areas of research also included early Black Feminist Thought, representations of African-American women in popular music, culture and media and violence against women.
She penned articles for Ms. Magazine, Meridians: Journal of feminism, race and transnationalism. Major scholarly authorship include “African American Women and the Prison Industrial Complex: A Textual Reading of Neema Barnette’s Civil Brand” in the International Journal of Africana Studies (Fall/Winter 2007), “No Throw Away Woman’: Maria Miller Stewart as Forerunner of Black Feminist Thought, in Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds for The University of Vermont Press Imprint of University Press of New England and “Defying Gender Stereotypes … African-American Women’s Realities in Hip Hop and Neo-Soul Music,” in Message in the Music: Hip Hop, Music and Pedagogy, “Punishing Abused Women: A Retrospective for Ms. Magazine,” in Illuminating How Identities, Stereotypes and Inequalities from Springer Press. Dr. Bartlow is also the author of “Mocha Moms: Lifting As We Climb” and “Mothers of East Los Angeles: Trailblazers in Environmental Justice,” in The 21st Century Motherhood Movementfrom Demeter Press, 2011.
Dianne was very much loved and respected by professors and students at California State University Northridge, where she was Chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department from 2013-2016, and taught and mentored students from 2002 until the time of her passing. She was a brilliant scholar and her scholarship focused on issues related to women in contemporary society and feminist pedagogy.
As a teacher, scholar, and filmmaker, Dianne brought all of her gifts to bear to raise society’s understanding of the judicial plight facing women and children. Her work was selfless and purposeful, and through that work, she made the world a better place.
She is survived by her daughters Yazmin Monet Watkins-Vieux and Jade Watkins Sprague, their husbands David Vieux and Timothy Sprague, her grandchildren Miles and Lily Sprague, her siblings Fundisha Adero and Darryl Bartlow, and a whole host of nieces, cousins and friends who love her so very dearly.
As a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend she showed us what unconditional love looks like in practice. How grateful we all are to have witnessed such brilliance and care. She will be forever missed and with us in our hearts always.