Fred Coe (born Frederick Haden Hughes; December 13, 1914 - April 29, 1979), nicknamed Pappy, was an American television producer and director most famous for The Goodyear Television Playhouse/The Philco Television Playhouse in 1948-1955 and Playhouse 90 from 1957 to 1959. Among the live TV dramas he produced were Marty and The Trip to Bountiful for Goodyear/Philco, Peter Pan for Producers' Showcase, and Days of Wine and Roses for Playhouse 90.
Born in Alligator, Mississippi, United States, Coe attended high school in Nashville, Tennessee, and college in Nashville at Peabody College, now part of Vanderbilt University, before studying at the Yale Drama School.
After serving in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, he started as a production manager at NBC in 1945. Coe made his mark in the early years of network television when Lights Out moved from radio to TV on July 3, 1946. Variety reviewed:
Coe was known as a patron saint of writers, discovering or advancing the careers of Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, Tad Mosel, JP Miller, David Swift, N. Richard Nash, A.E. Hotchner, Herb Gardner, David Shaw, and many others. Numerous important actors appeared on Coe's shows, which were directed by, among others, Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn.
Coe also was a significant producer on Broadway. His plays include The Trip to Bountiful, The Miracle Worker, Two for the Seesaw, All the Way Home, A Thousand Clowns, and Wait Until Dark. He also produced the film versions of The Miracle Worker and A Thousand Clowns, the latter of which he directed.
Coe is buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs, New York. His biography, The Man in the Shadows: Fred Coe and the Golden Age of Television by Jon Krampner, was published by Rutgers University Press in 1997. The UCLA Film and Television Archive has kinescopes of many Fred Coe productions and has made some digital transfers. The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research also has kinescopes.