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Rebecca Eaton (born November 7, 1947) is an American television producer best known for introducing American audiences to British costume and countryside dramas as executive producer of the PBS Masterpiece series.
Eaton was born in Boston and raised in Pasadena, California, her father a Caltech English literature professor, and her mother, Katherine Emery, an actress both on Broadway (in Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour) and in film. Eaton recalls visiting New York every summer to see Broadway shows, as well as spending her junior high school days lost in Jane Eyre.
Eaton attended Vassar, graduating in 1969 with a BA in English literature. Her senior thesis was on James Joyce's The Dubliners. In 1969-1970, she was a production assistant for the BBC World Service in London. Returning to the U.S., she was in 1972 hired by WGBH in Boston, there producing Pantechnicon (a radio arts magazine) and the television programs Zoom and Enterprise.
Eaton became the third executive producer of Masterpiece Theatre. Christopher Sarson was at the helm from its inception in 1971. Sarson had bought Upstairs, Downstairs from ITV. Eaton succeeded the series' second executive producer, Joan Wilson, in 1985.
Under Eaton, Masterpiece extended its reach into feature film co-production, for such films as Jane Austen's Persuasion and Mrs. Brown, starring Dame Judi Dench.
By 2011, she had been executive producer of the show for more than 25 of its 40 years on the air.
Eaton married in 1984 sculptor Paul Robert Cooper. The couple's daughter was born shortly before Eaton was named executive producer of Masterpiece. She credits her husband's willingness to stay at home with having advanced her career.
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