Oct 2, 2010

RIP Stephen J. Cannell

On of TV's most prolific writers died today. Stephen J. Cannell was 69.  If you own a TV or have ever owned a TV, you have seen his work.  He worked in the TV industry for decades.  He sold his first script in 1968 and was put under contract at Universal.  He went on to create some of the most iconic shows on television and some very memorable characters. Cannell worked on 40 shows in all, most often action shows, cop shows and detective stories. 

The list of shows he wrote reads like a Hall of Fame of 70's and 80's TV. Just a sampling include: 21 Jump Street, Adam-12, The A-Team, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Baretta, The Commish, The Greatest American Hero, The Rockford Files and Wiseguy.  He even did a little acting, appearing as himself on Castle as one of several authors in a poker group.  Later in life, Cannell began writing, authoring nearly 20 crime novels. All of this from a man who battled dyslexia most of his life. 

The signoff on his shows was the memorable shot of him yanking a sheet of paper out of a typewriter and it floating down to a stack of papers.  He typed on an IBM Selectric for his entire career, only using a computer for research.

Stephen J. Cannell created much of the landscape of television in the 70's and 80's. Never a critical darling, his shows were still some of the most popular viewing in those decades.  New shows like The Defenders and Chase have their roots in his work. Gone but never forgotten, rest in peace, Stephen.

More to Come.

1 comment:

  1. Adam-12 was one of my favorite shows as a kid. They have the complete series on Netflix streaming. I need to watch a few.


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