Stephen J. Cannell, one of the most successful television producers of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, died on Thursday (Sept. 30) evening. He was 69.
The cause of death was complications from melanoma.
A statement on Cannell’s official website reads, “With profound sadness, we have to announce that our dear friend and colleague, Stephen Cannell, has lost a brave fight against cancer. He passed away at his home last night. He will be missed beyond measure by the Cannell Team and all of us who had the privilege and the plain good luck to know and work with him. Through the legacy of his body of work, with which he was able to entertain and enrich the lives of millions of viewers and thousands of readers, he will always be with us, living on in our hearts and minds, with fond memories forever.”
Cannell cut his teeth as a writer on shows including “Ironside” and “Columbo,” but made his biggest mark as creator or co-creator of dramas including “The Rockford Files,” “The Greatest American Hero,” “Hardcastle and McCormick,” “Baretta,” “The A-Team,” “Wiseguy,” “Hunter,” “21 Jump Street,” “Silk Stalkings” and “The Commish.”
Any Emmy winner in 1978 for producing “The Rockford Files,” Cannell earned later Emmy nods for writing the “Tenspeed and Brown Shoe” and “Greatest American Hero” pilots and for producing “Wiseguy.”
Cannell also wrote 16 novels, more pilots than IMDB could possibly count, several telefilms and served as producer on dozens of additional shows he didn’t create. We could also make note of his influential role in building up the production infrastructure in Vancouver, or his fierce advocacy work to raise awareness of dyslexia.
He also frequently acted, with credits including “Renegade,” and was most recently seen as himself on episodes of ABC’s “Castle.”
HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall will offer his salute to Stephen J. Cannell later in the day.