Prolific TV Producer Stephen J. Cannell Dies
First Published: October 1, 2010 1:58 PM EDT Credit: Getty Images
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Stephen J. Cannell, the prolific writer-producer of dozens of TV series that included “The Rockford Files” and “The A-Team,” has died at age 69.
Cannell passed away at his home in Pasadena, Calif., on Thursday night from complications associated with melanoma, his publicist said on Friday.
After three decades as an independent producer of TV shows, Cannell in recent years had focused his attention to writing books, and had published 16.
As an actor, he had a recurring role recently on ABC-TV’s series, “Castle.”
The Family Released the Following Statement:
“Stephen J. Cannell passed away at his home in Pasadena on Thursday evening (9/30) due to complications associated with melanoma. He was surrounded by his family and loved ones.
Aside from being a legendary television producer and prolific writer, Stephen was also a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, and a loyal friend. Mr. Cannell is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 46 years, Marcia, their three children, Tawnia, Chelsea and Cody and three grand children. Stephen was the pillar of strength within his family and he touched everyone he met. He will be most deeply missed.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Cancer Society for melanoma research or The International Dyslexia Association. Details regarding his memorial service will be released.”
Stephen J. Cannell was the bestselling author of sixteen novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Shane Scully series, which includes The Pallbearers, On The Grind, Three Shirt Deal, White Sister, Cold Hit, Vertical Coffin, Hollywood Tough, The Viking Funeral, and The Tin Collectors. The newest installment, The Prostitute’s Ball, will be released by St. Martin’s Press on October 12, 2010 Additionally, Cannell was the author of At First Sight, Runaway Heart, The Devil’s Workshop, Riding the Snake, King Con, Final Victim, and The Plan.
An Emmy and People’s Choice award-winning writer/producer and Chairman of Cannell Studios, Cannell was one of the most prolific writers in television history. In a highly successful career that spans three decades, he created or co-created more than 40 shows, of which he scripted more than 450 episodes and produced or executive produced more than 1,500 episodes. His hits included “The Rockford Files,” “Greatest American Hero,” “The A-Team,” “Hunter,” “Riptide,” “Hardcastle & McCormick,” “21 Jump Street,” “Wiseguy,” “The Commish,” “Profit,” and the hit syndicated shows, “Renegade” and “Silk Stalkings.”
During the past few years, Cannell received numerous career honors including the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award from the Writers Guild of America, and the Marlowe Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Writers of America, the NATPE Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, multiple Saturn awards, the 2008 Final Draft Hall of Fame Award, which recognizes entertainment industry luminaries who foster the art of screenwriting, as well as the Caucus for Writers, Producers and Directors Producer award.
An unstoppable creative force, Cannell was also a savvy businessman. In 1979, Cannell formed his own independent production company, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, in order to achieve creative control over material he was writing and producing. Seven years later, he formed The Cannell Studios to oversee all aspects of the organization’s operations. Having surpassed the $1 billion mark in production outlays, the studio experienced remarkable growth and diversification in such areas as production (films, mini-series, and commercials), merchandising, several television stations, and first-run/off-network programming. Cannell still owns the worldwide distribution rights to more than 1,000 hours of Cannell-produced series and TV movies.
Cannell Studios is currently developing new television projects and producing a slate of independent films as well as feature films of Cannell TV shows including, 21 Jump Street, and The Greatest American Hero as well as The A-Team, which was released in theaters, worldwide, in June, 2010.
Having overcome severe dyslexia, Cannell was an avid spokesperson on the condition and an advocate for children and adults with learning disabilities. A third generation Californian, he grew up and resided in the Pasadena area and is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marcia, their children, and grandchildren.
Fans of Stephen J. Cannell can learn more about his television shows, books, and film projects at his web site, www.cannell.com.