Friday, 1 October 2010

RIP: Stephen J. Cannell

If you were a kid growing up in the 1970s or 1980s then you were extremely familiar with this little video clip:

Familiar, because that clip probably marked the end of the show you were just watching and enjoying. Well, the man featured in that clip, writer, producer, novelist Stephen J. Cannell passed away last night at the age of 69 from complications from a long battle with melanoma.

He started out as a humble television writer, selling his first script to It Takes A Thief in 1968, bopping around from show to show, as a writer and script editor, before becoming a successful creator and producer of his own shows, starting with The Rockford Files.

During his career he wrote over 450 TV episodes, and created or co created over 40 TV series, eventually branching into novels. His specialty was escapist crime and adventure dramas ladled with healthy servings of action, humor, and quirky characters. This accomplishment is made even more impressive by his lifelong battle with dyslexia.

He also showed me, when I was a kid, that not only was it possible to be a successful writer for TV, but that a writer could also become master of their own fate they worked hard and worked smart.

He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace Mr. Cannell, and enjoy working on that big electric typewriter in the sky.

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