Teleprompter inventor Hubert Schlafly dies at 91

A man sitting in front of a teleprompter The teleprompter was developed by Hubert Schlafly while he was working for 20th Century Fox

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A key member of the team that invented the teleprompter, which feeds scripts to actors, politicians and newsreaders, has died at the age of 91.

Hubert Schlafly Jr died last week in the US state of Connecticut after a brief illness.

His funeral was held on Tuesday in town of Greenwich, where he lived.

Schlafly was working at 20th Century Fox film studios in 1950 when he developed the teleprompter, which is also known as the autocue.

He had been asked by the company to build a device that would help actors remember their lines.

Schlafly's prototype teleprompter, which debuted on the set of a US soap opera, was placed beside a film camera and used a motorised scroll of paper inside a suitcase to assist the show's actors.

The device was soon adopted by politicians and was used at the Republican Party's national convention by former US President Herbert Hoover in 1952. It has been employed by every US president since that time.

'Most innovative engineer'

Schlafly helped to start TelePrompTer Corp and eventually became the company's president, accepting an Emmy Award on its behalf in 1999.

Schlafly, who held 16 total patents, also won an Emmy in 1992 for his work in creating the first cable system to permit subscribers to order special programmes, said a friend, Thomas Gallagher.

"Hub Schlafly was the cable industry's most innovative engineer and, at the same time, one of its ablest executives," Charles Dolan, the chairman of Cablevision, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Whether you were his friend or competitor, he was always congenial and supportive and probably had more friends than anyone."

Subsequent upgrades to the teleprompter, which have allowed lines of script to be superimposed on to the front of cameras, are still in use today, assisting entertainers, politicians and newsreaders.

Schlafly himself delivered a speech using a teleprompter for the first time at the age of 88.

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