A key figure in the promotion of British television hits abroad, Taffner had a particular talent for spotting series with crossover appeal. Among the shows he brought to American television were Three’s Company (1977), which was based on Man About The House; The Ropers (1979) inspired by George & Mildred; and Too Close For Comfort (1980) which took its lead from Keep It In The Family.
Taffner started in showbusiness in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency, and within three years had become a successful agent in his own right. He left in 1959 to develop the Television Distribution Program Department at Paramount, and in 1963 founded his own company, D. L. Taffner Ltd, which began as a distributor of television programmes worldwide, and later branched into theatre.
His passion for the medium of television soon reaped dividends, and he retained an affinity for British programmes, with The Benny Hill Show among the other hits he successfully exported to the US. He was awarded an OBE in 2002 in recognition of his services to the British television industry.
The other awards that came his way during the course of a long and successful career include one from the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Emmy for its Founders Award. The citation read ‘for setting new levels of creativity in the worldwide exchange of television programs’.
Taffner’s British connections did not end with his television work. His company still owns The Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End and he was a trustee of BAFTA in New York. In addition he and his wife were honoured with the Wallace award by Scotland magazine – despite having no Scottish connection themselves – for their passionate support for Scottish art, particularly the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.