SPERO, HERMAN ISRAEL (24 July 1924-7 Sept. 1979) was an independent television producer who specialized in music programs as disparate as POLKAS and ROCK 'N' ROLL. The son of Phillip and Rebecca Saperstein Spero, he was born in Cleveland and graduated from Glenville High School. He had already appeared on radio and with the Curtain Pullers at the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. After working in U.S.O. shows while in the Army during WORLD WAR II, he did a radio show for WJMO in Cleveland before going to Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va.
Returning to Ohio, he broke into television in Akron and then began producing shows for Cleveland's WEWS, including "Old Dutch Polka Review" and "Souvenir Showtime." A long-time feature was his "Polka Varieties," which began in 1956 and ran into the 1970s. He began a rock and roll dance program called "The Big Five Show" in 1964, bringing Don Webster from Canada as host. It went into national syndication as "The Upbeat Show" in 1966, appearing in more than 100 cities weekly with such acts as Sonny and Cher, the Supremes, and Steppenwolf through 1971. Spero also booked big band acts in Cleveland and produced special events such as the "World Series of Accordions" in 1971 at THISTLEDOWN RACE TRACK.
He was married twice, to Joy Kiefer in 1948 and, following a divorce, to Shirley Hessel in 1974. He died in New York City, survived by both wives, children Harry, David, Ted, and Sheri, and stepdaughter Deborah Lyman.