Television producer Stephen J. Cannell died at his home in Pasadena, California, Thursday night at the age of 69.
Cannell, who produced such small-screen hits as "21 Jump Street," "The A-Team" and "The Rockford Files," for which he won an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy in 1978, succumbed to complications arising from melanoma, his family confirmed to "Entertainment Tonight" in a statement.
"He was surrounded by his family and loved ones," the statement reads. "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 grandchildren. Stephen was the pillar of strength within his family and he touched everyone he met. He will be most deeply missed."
Cannell was born on February 5, 1941, in Los Angeles and grew up in nearby Pasadena. Though he struggled with dyslexia in college, Cannell began his career in television as a writer, penning scripts for "It Takes a Thief" and "Colombo," among others. He would go on to co-create and produce 40 TV shows, including "The Greatest American Hero," "The Commish" and "Wiseguy."
In addition to producing, Cannell also wrote 16 novels over the course of his lifetime and sometimes appeared onscreen as an actor. He most recently graced the screen in the ABC dramedy "Castle," in which he played one of Castle's poker buddies.
Fans of '60s, '70s and '80s television will also remember him from the video clip that closed out his production company's shows: Cannell is pictured typing before throwing a sheet of paper from his typewriter; the paper then animates to become the company logo against a black screen. For this, and so much more, Cannell will be remembered fondly.
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